A company called Valeo has been working to embed cars with sensors, cameras and a laser scanner that let the cars park themselves. And I’m not talking about the park-assist feature that parallel parks for you and is already available in some cars.
I’m talking about you pulling up in front of Costco, getting out of your car and walking into Costco like a boss while a whole gaggle of oversized-cart-pushing mouth-breathers watch your car go find itself a parking spot. To clarify, I mean that the carts are oversized, not necessarily the people pushing the carts. Although there are those at Costco, too.
While you’re in the checkout line, you pull up the app on your smartphone and tell your car to come get you. Once you pass the gatekeeper with the pink highlighter that checks your receipt, there’s your car – right in front again. And probably more mouth breathers.
I spoke with Valeo engineer Sam Azuz, who told me that this technology could work in a normal, run-of-the-mill parking lot, although the car would drive itself very slowly. In the below video, you can see how the car parks itself very slowly since the demo lot Valeo is using here at CES has no special infrastructure built into it.
However, if a Costco or a Target or whoever were to outfit their parking lots with the necessary connections and sensors, Valeo-infused cars would be able to park themselves much faster. Azuz likened it to these self-parking cars from Honda, which live in parking ramps full of sensors.
Valeo has partnerships with 18 automobile manufacturers, all of whom already have the capability to build this feature into their cars. It would be available as an upgrade to your car when you buy it from the dealership, and could start showing up as early as the next two or three years.