Cars That Park Themselves



Mall parking lots are a hassle on the weekends and a nightmare around the holidays. But what if you didn't have to worry about driving around to find a space or even parking the car at all?

"Enter Audi's piloted parking," says Edmunds.com's Ron Montoya.

Here's how it works: you drive your Audi to a specially-designated car lot, leave the car at a drop-off area, choose an open space with a smartphone app and then let the car do all the work. Montoya says from there, the vehicle uses its Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) cameras to navigate the lot and park itself in the predetermined space. Once you're finished shopping, you enter a command in the smartphone app, asking for the car to meet you at the drop-off area.

Piloted parking needs two major components to work, Montoya explains: a self-driving car and a parking lot outfitted with laser sensors to record the car's movement. Businesses may be more likely to add the sensors to their parking lots once self-driving cars are on the road in sizable numbers.

In the meantime, Ford (F) and Toyota (TM) already have vehicles that can assist with parking. In these cars, the driver has to be in the vehicle to manipulate the gas and brake pedals. The car will automatically take care of steering into the space. Edmunds' test drives found that while these two self-parking systems work well enough, they often require a large parking space to operate in.

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