Popularly known as self-driving or driverless vehicles, autonomous cars combine sensors and software to drive and navigate. Because they can fit into spaces smaller than human drivers can manage, they improve space utilization as the same number of cars can fit into less space. This means self-driving cars hold the potential to be especially helpful in solving parking and traffic woes in high-density areas. What’s more, they also remove the stress associated with parallel parking.
Though still in infancy, self-driving technology holds the potential to radically transform our transportation system.
How Self-Driving Cars Park
Self-driving cars do not ‘park’ in the traditional sense of the term. Instead, such cars stand at a spot that they can vacate at a short notice. However, this might not be possible when they’d be blocking a spot and would need to be directed to a parking lot through the right technology. This can take the form of a digital system enabled parking wherein the sensors and the radars in the car are alerted to the nearest space by smart parking apps such as Get My Parking.
In addition, sensors and radars can be programmed to pick up signals from vacant parking lots to recognize them. With Google having digitized much of the urban topography through its maps, there should not be a problem for self-driving cars to find vacant parking lots. This would require information to be embedded into their software and current technology is equipped to enable this.
Future Parking Arrangements for Self-Driving Cars
Of course, considering that self-driving cars are currently at infancy, urban planners must make provisions to digitally link information about parking lots and store such details in a centralized database that can relay real-time updates about availability.
Cities such as San Francisco are already experimenting with dynamic parking processes that automate the entire parking value chain. The tech hub has linked all its parking lots with digital meters thereby converging with the emerging self-driving cars revolution.
Do Self-Driving Cars Need to Park?
There are some who argue that self-driving cars need not park since they can always drive around until the passenger requests a ride. However, this would exacerbate the problem of traffic congestion in addition to increasing the carbon footprint in case of non-electric cars. On the other hand, self-driving cars do not need to park near pick and drop destinations.
Whichever way one looks at it, it is clear that the advent of self-driving cars would transform parking in much the same manner it would revolutionize urban living.