Earlier this week, Google successfully acquired a patent that enables self-driving automobiles to find an available parking space and automatically park the car after arriving at the destination. Otherwise known as the “landing strip”, the patent diagram shows a sensor embedded in the ground at the parking location as well as a QR code to scan. The self-driving car is able to communicate with the sensor and come to a complete stop in order to park the car. The wording of the patent suggests that the car communicates with the sensor via a RF or cellular connection rather than talking to the sensor via GPS technology. When integrated into a computer system, a sensor could potentially direct a car that enters a parking structure to the nearest open spot.
Google also indicated that the sensor could tell the car to stop for a certain period of time or continue in a specific direction over a preset distance. Google indicated that these types of commands would be helpful on tours and stated “In the example embodiment, the vehicle may have an instruction to drive to the Cloud Gate (Silver Bean) sculpture at Millennium Park. When the vehicle arrives, the autonomous instruction may tell it to wait in the location for a predetermined amount of time, for example 5 minutes. The instruction may then direct the vehicle to drive to the Crown Fountain at Millennium Park and again wait for 5 minutes. Next, the instruction may tell the vehicle to drive to the Ice Rink at Millennium Park and wait for another predetermined amount of time. Finally, the vehicle instruction may tell the vehicle to return to its starting position.”
Google is still undergoing testing of the self-driving vehicle and is determined to reach 1,000,ooo miles driven without an accident. The current fleet of self-driving vehicles at Google has traveled a collective 200,000 miles at this point in both California and Nevada. However, the self-driving car did get into an accident with a Toyota Prius earlier this year, but that was blamed on human error.