BMW Remote Valet Parking. CES 2015. Image courtesy BMW

BMW Remote Valet Parking. CES 2015. Image courtesy BMW

BMW will be giving a demo of its “Remote Parking Valet Assistant” (RPVA) at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas during the first week of January, according to news reports.

The feature, which the automaker hopes to bring to market within a few years, would make it possible for drivers to use their smartwatches to tell the cars to park themselves in a parking garage and then meet the drivers at the garage exit when they are ready to leave, writes Jason Mick for Daily Tech. At present, the system only works in parking garages whose architectural blueprints are online, as RPVA uses its onboard WiFi and cellular data links to find such parking garage floor plans, Mick writes.

Tyler Lee writes for übergizmo that RPVA might seem similar to Audi’s technology, but Audi vehicles require a location to be outfitted with laser scanners, whereas BMW’s will work with any building, as long as the blueprints are accessible. But other than RPVA’s relying on blueprints, the feature’s “biggest wow factor” is that it can interface with a driver’s smartwatch, Mick writes. He adds that it appears that BMW is testing the technology with Samsung’s Tizen-based “Gear S” smartwatch.

The RPVA works with data from a variety of vehicle sensors, which include cameras and LIDAR (light detection and ranging) scanners, Mick writes. It is designed to navigate a parking garage as it avoids pedestrians, walls, and cars that might be poorly parked, according to a BMW press release. Because RPVA works via vehicle sensor systems and a digital site plan, it does not need to rely on GPS signals, which are not reliable in parking garages, the BMW press release says.

The press release goes on to say:

Once the BMW i3 has arrived at the parking space, the vehicle locks itself and waits to be called by Smartwatch and voice command. The fully automated Remote Valet Parking Assistant then calculates the exact time until the driver arrives at the car park and starts up the BMW i3 so that it arrives at the car park exit at exactly the right time.

Comments to the Daily Tech piece were all about how pop culture has either predicted or needed this feature. Tongue in cheek, a commenter named Reclaimer77 writes:

This article is SCREAMING for a meme of Tim Burton’s Batman where Keaton gives voice commands to the Batmobile from a communicator thingy. Or some other fictional reference.

Just…come on. Don’t get slack on us now 🙂

And a commenter named SublimeSimplicity posts, “What about the famous Seinfeld episode ‘the parking garage’? Kramer could have really used this car.”

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