BMW is set to demonstrate a prototype system that will automatically park a car in a multi-story car park without the use of GPS or the presence of a driver.
Called the Remote Valet Parking Assistant, the technology combines onboard laser scanners with a map of car park’s layout to enable the driver to exit the vehicle before it navigates itself through the structure autonomously.
The car will then find an empty spot, park, lock itself and then wait to be summoned by the driver when they are ready to depart.
The Remote Valet Parking Assistant is controlled via the driver’s smartwatch, which also monitors the driver’s location so the car can meet them at the car park exit.
BMW says the same sensor technology can be used to bring crash-free driving closer to reality. Similar to the autonomous emergency braking (AEB) systems seen in existing vehicles, the system developed by the Bavarian car brand monitors 360-degrees around the car, and acts to stop the car when it detects an obstacle.
BMW will showcase the new technology aboard an i3 – their all-new fully-electric car – bringing together its green drivetrains and driver safety systems.
This isn’t the first time BMW have dabbled in autonomous driving, however.
In 2009 a development version of a modified 330i called the Track Trainer navigated the 22.8km, 154-corner Nordschleife circuit using the ideal racing line and at racing speeds.
The BMW Track Trainer has also driven racing-speed laps at Laguna Seca in the US, Zandvoort in the Netherlands, Valencia in Spain as well as the Hockenheimring and Lausitzring in Germany.
BMW’s autonomous vehicle development continued in 2011, with a development vehicle taking to the motorway between Munich and Nuremberg without driver intervention (although one was present in the car).
BMW’s self-parking i3 will be on display at the Consumer Electronics Show, which runs from January 6 to 9 in Las Vegas.