Skip to main content

Can’t find a spot? Let the car do it. BMW turns an i3 into a valet for CES 2015

At last year’s Consumer Electronics Show, BMW unveiled tech that turns a car into a driving coach. This year, it’s focusing on something a little more practical.

For CES 2015, BMW will unveil its Remote Valet Parking Assistant, a new autonomous system that does exactly what its name says.

Installed in a converted i3 electric car, BMW says the system will allow a car to drive itself into a multi-story garage and park itself without any human intervention.

The driver can dispatch the car with commands from a smartwatch. The car then uses onboard sensors and stored plans for the building to navigate itself to a space while its owner goes on his or her way.

Once parked, the car automatically locks itself and waits for a scheduled pick up time or voice command. The car then estimates how long it will take to reach the meeting point in order to arrive on time.

BMW Remote Valet Parking Assistant
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The i3 test car uses four laser scanners to orient itself and detect obstacles. They can also be used at a lower level of automation to automatically brake the i3 with the system feels the human driver is about to hit something. Steering away from an obstacle or changing direction releases the brakes.

BMW notes that this system doesn’t rely on GPS signals, which can get cut off in bunker-like parking garages. So far though, it’s not saying how production cars could be quickly provided with the floor plan for any garage a driver might want to use.

The Remote Valet Parking Assistant is one of numerous robotic systems proposed by carmakers that are expected to pave the way for fully-autonomous cars.

Volvo unveiled a similar system last year, and Elon Musk claims the upgraded suite of sensors in the revamped Tesla Model S allows for auto parking in the future.

Given that parking-assist systems are already commonplace on production cars, parking could be one of the first realms where the machines secure a beachhead.

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
BMW scraps its unpopular approach to heated seats
Driver's seat and dashboard of the 2023 BMW iX M60.

BMW caused much consternation last year when it launched a subscription-only option for heated car seats.

The idea of having to pay a monthly fee of $18 to keep your posterior warm during the winter months still seems as absurd as ever, but the good news is that the German automaker has now decided to scrap the fee. What particularly irked customers was that they felt they were being forced to cough up extra for functions that would previously have been expected as standard. The fiasco even prompted a community of hackers to offer their services to unlock the feature for those unwilling to pay extra for it.

Read more
Cruise says it’s nearing approval for mass production of futuristic robotaxi
Interior of Cruise's Origin vehicle.

Robotaxi company Cruise is “just days away” from getting regulatory approval that would pave the way for mass production of its purpose-built driverless vehicle, CEO Kyle Vogt said on Thursday in comments reported by the Detroit Free Press.

General Motors-backed Cruise unveiled the vehicle -- called Origin -- in early 2020, presenting the kind of driverless car that we all dreamed of when R&D in the sector kicked off years ago; a vehicle without a steering wheel and without pedals. A vehicle with passenger seats only.

Read more
Modern cars are a privacy nightmare, and there’s no way to opt out
Elon Musk smirks while pointing.

Cars are changing, and quickly. Electric cars are on the rise, and at the same time, manufacturers are pushing autonomous driving technologies -- even if we're still a while away from actual self-driving cars. But there are other aspects about cars that are changing too -- the fact that they're becoming increasingly connected, and increasingly computer-controlled. And, with all the data that cars can collect, privacy is becoming increasingly important.

Turns out, however, cars aren't that great at preserving your privacy. In fact, they're terrible at it.

Read more