BMW's next self-parking car won't need any human help

bmw remote valet parking assistant scene
Image: Melissa Riofrio

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LAS VEGAS—We’ve seen a first generation of self-parking cars that need a little help from the driver. And at CES 2015 we’re getting a peek the next generation, which doesn’t even need you to be in the car, and it really does do everything by itself.

BMW showed us a research vehicle whose Remote Valet Parking Assistant uses high-resolution laser scanners built into the car’s body to capture data on its surroundings.

bmw remote valet parking assistant scanner detail Image: Melissa Riofrio

High-resolution laser scanners on the car help it shimmy into a parking spot wihtout human help, other than a request from BMW's Remote Valet Parking Assistant app.

The experiment limited the car’s speed to about 15 mph, which was more than fast enough to tool around the top of the parking tower at SLS Hotel.

The car was controlled using an Android Wear app. A BMW staffer tapped a few times on the screen to launch the app.

bmw remote valet parking assistant smartwatch app Image: Melissa Riofrio

BMW's  Remote Valet Parking Assistant app can initiate the self-parking command and also summon the car when it's time to leave. 

I sat in the car’s front passenger seat while it tooled slowly around the lot to find an open spot. Then, on command from the app, it left its spot and went back to the staffer, nice as you please.

No one enjoys looking for a parking spot in a packed garage. And if you hate parking in general—the backing in and positioning, the concerns about fitting between poles or hitting a wall—it’s just a lose-lose. Remote Valet Parking Assistant could solve those problems in about five years, BMW says.

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