At CES 2015, BMW will be showcasing its i3 with automatic parking tech. Uh, doesn't the i3 already have that? Yes, it does. In fact, at CES 2014, the company showcased that very feature. What we'll be seeing at CES 2015 is a little different, though.
Instead of simply maneuvering itself into a parking spot, the car will also be able to look for a parking spot. Imagine this: You go to a mall, you stop at the entrance, and you get out of your car. Then, on your smartwatch, you tell the car to go park itself. It will then drive through the parking garage, find a suitable spot, and park itself there, all fully automated without a driver in the seat. Naturally, it also locks itself, and anyone watching will be very puzzled by the sight.
Then, when you're done shopping, you simply tell your car to come pick you up at the same place again, and if you give it a time, it will make sure it's there exactly when you need it to be so that you don't have to wait.
There is a catch, though. Because the car doesn't have satellite reception when in a parking garage, it relies on pre-installed maps to find its way around the structure. While this will require maps for all the garages you might want to park in, it also ensures that the parking garages don't need to have extra equipment retrofitted in order to make it compatible with the technology.
There will certainly also be legal implications, as with any self-driving car. While currently cars in the U.S. are allowed to be self-driving with a driver behind the wheel in some states (which is what Google has been doing extensively), it is generally illegal for a car to drive itself without a driver to catch mistakes. On private property, however, a driver may not be legally required. Hmm, aren't most parking garages private property?
Either way, this technology is pretty cool, and we look forward to the day that the lawmakers decide to ease up.