Annie Lien and Audi’s piloted-parking car at CES on Driving the Nation

Currently, you drive up to a hotel, give your Audi R8 keys, and a tip, to the valet and they park your car for you. In the future, you will get out of your car and command your car to park it’self with your smartphone.
Instead of going to the parking garage to get your car, imagine taking your smartphone out of your jacket, and with a couple clicks on your smartphone, your car will meet you at the front of your lobby at the same time you are getting off the elevator.

Ann Lien, Senior engineer at electronics research lab for Audi of America in Belmont California gave us the scenario; youre running late for an event, something that isnt hard to imagine. As youre coming out of your apartment you call for your car on your smartphone. This is all doable in the future through Audi piloted parking.

Lien was head of an autonomous vehicle group in the 2007 urban Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) challenge. She knows it’s not feasible to put a $70,000 sensor on the top of a car to try and make it automated or autonomous. But it is possible to put sensors and radars in a luxury car and in the garage infrastructure so that the car can park it’self and bring it’self back down to the lobby.

This not only saves time it saves gasoline. When a person is parking a car, quite often, they look for the closest parking space to the store. They will drive around the parking lot, or stop in the middle of the lane while they wait for someone to come out of the store, all so that they can get the closest spot they can, not thinking of the gas they are wasting.

When a car parks it’self it doesn’t care where it parks or whether it is raining, it looks for the first parking space available. There is no getting in the car turning on the car, answering a phone call and sitting there while the gasoline engine runs. As soon as you tell your smart phone to tell your car to meet you, it drives down and meets you.

Piloted parking saves dings and dents on your car. Cars are parked so tightly together that the driver can ding another car getting in and out of the car. With piloted parking no one gets in, or out of the car.

The car will stop immediately if it senses an obstacle, such as a person, but someday there will be garages that don’t allow people in the garage, only cars. Upon reaching it’s final position, the car will shut off the engine, deactivate the ignition and lock the doors. It will then send a confirmation to the driver, via smartphone.

There are parking garages in Ingolstadt, Germany, that will be used for demonstration purposes in 2013. Audi spends 8 percent of their gross revenue on research and development and they are close to perfecting this technology. According to Audi AG executives it is not technology, or fear of litigation that is keeping this technology from coming out sooner, it is legislation.

About the Author:

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY), Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), and the Concept Car of the Year.