All posts in “parking”

Future cars could park themselves, even in the toughest spots

Forget self-driving cars. The future is all about self-parking cars.

For anyone still traumatized from learning how to parallel park, a new patent from Bay Area-based electric vehicle company SF Motors will soothe your bumper-filled nightmares.

The company’s approved patent for design and methodology for a self-parking system takes sensors, cameras, and LIDAR (a laser system to measure distance between objects) to supply data to a computer that can direct the car on how to park. The system with sensors is mounted on the car at bumper level for prime parking data collection.

A look at the patent application approved last month shows how the sensors tell the parking system about objects that may exist as well as how far away they are. In the patent, SF Motors says the cameras can identify pedestrians, cyclists, cars, parking spot lines, markers, signs, curbs, trees, roads, and other things you’d find on a street or in a parking lot. 

How the self-parking feature works.

How the self-parking feature works.

Image: sf motors

It’s like that self-docking boat from Volvo, but way more useful for all of us who actually have a car. SF Motors says the self-parking feature can work in most conditions regardless of the weather or visibility outside. “Hand, facial or body gestures or cues to signal intentions between human operators can be limited or impossible under poor visibility conditions such as at night or during poor weather,” the patent reads, knocking humans abilities to gauge whether you’ll actually fit into that spot or not. 

This also seems like a swipe at Tesla’s self-parking and summon features available on its driver assistance system, Autopilot. Tesla’s autonomous parking capabilities are fairly limited to clear-cut spots like those in lots or in garages.

Now that SF Motors has the patent, they want to incorporate it into their vision for an intelligent electric vehicle that has other autonomous features, like those that help with safe driving.

The company plans to have its first vehicle equipped with features like this autonomous parking sensor available in China toward the end of next year.

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Bird will let you complain about bad e-scooter parking

Mind how you park your Bird.
Mind how you park your Bird.

Image: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Irresponsible scooter parking is the scourge of any city overrun with the motorized devices. So on Thursday, e-scooter company Bird unleashed “Community Mode” on its app, which includes a way to report or complain about bad parking jobs or damaged Birds blighting city streets.

The new feature is part of Bird’s GovTech platform that lets cities work with the scooters within established transportation systems. That was released a few months ago, but now the Bird reporting is open to anyone on the app. Bird said cities will see the option in the coming weeks.

The Bird app lets you report problem scooters.

The Bird app lets you report problem scooters.

Image: bird

Through the Bird app you can report a Bird parked in the wrong spot or a broken Bird lying around blocking things. Once it’s reported, the scooter service will send someone out to reposition the vehicle. For damaged scooters, so-called “mechanics” will head out to remove the device and get it repaired. 

For those who want to complain about Birds strewn every which way on city streets, you have to download the app. It’s not a total free-for-all for all the Bird haters out there.

More importantly, will Bird start to track down the last rider on poorly-parked scooters? The company hasn’t said so, but I could see a future with fees added to your account for leaving a Bird in the middle of the sidewalk or in front of a shop door.

It could soon be time to shape up our sloppy parking ways. Bird competitor Lime already claims to have e-scooters that can detect if you’re riding on the sidewalk or in a no-parking zone.

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BMW acquires Parkmobile parking app to help tackle city traffic


BMW has acquired Parkmobile, an app that provides guidance and services for those looking for parking in North America, including on-street and garage parking payments and spot reservation. BMW Group had already held a minority investment in the company, and owned its Parkmobile Group Europe affiliate, but today it increased its holdings to reach majority ownership of Parkmobile, LLC, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia.

This will provide BMW with a significant foothold in the U.S. parking services market, since Parkmobile is available in over 300 cities stateside, including NYC, Philadelphia and Phoenix, to name just a few. Parkmobile will become part of BMW Group’s Mobility Services portfolio, which is expanding in scope and influence now that mobility is an area of increasing interest for automakers in general.

The Parkmobile acquisition will also help address a growing issue for anyone seeking to get people around within cities: Traffic. BMW points out that as much as 30 percent of traffic in any given city is caused by people looking for spots to park. Especially when a city is unfamiliar, figuring out where and when you can park is a daunting challenge, and one that can cause a lot of hesitation and stop-start driving on busy streets.

Parkmobile processed 50 million transactions from people finding parking in North America last year, and reach over 8 million registered users. It also worked with BMW on building its services directly into the vehicle, and I’d expect that to continue now that they’re one and the same.

Google Maps can now tell you where you parked your car

Image: Rob Griffith/AP/REX/Shutterstock

“Hey dude, where’s my car” — never again will you have to utter these words, courtesy of a new Google Maps feature that lets you save your parking location on a map. 

Originally launched as part of a Google Maps beta (and only on Android) in March 2017, the feature just went live on Android and iOS. 

To activate the feature on Android, tap the blue dot and choose “Save your parking,” and a label will appear on the map, showing you where you parked. You can even add a note to give yourself more precise instructions for later, add a timer (with a 15-minute reminder), send your parking location to a friend or save an image of the spot. 

Image: Google

On the iPhone, the procedure is almost the same: Tap the blue dot and choose “Set as parking location;” after that, you get the same options as on the Android version of the app. 

Image: Google

Bear in mind that this is different to Google Maps’ automatic parking detection, which figures out where you’ve parked without your intervention. 

To get the new feature, just upgrade your Maps on Android or iOS to the latest version. The app is available here on Android and iOS

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Google Maps will soon be able to find your parked car

Image: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

It’s so easy to forget where you parked your car, especially on a city street or in a huge mall parking lot, but Google Maps is here to save the day.

The latest beta version of Google Maps for Android (sorry iOS users!) has a few features that’ll remind you where you parked your car.

The first feature lets you set your parking location by tapping on the blue location dot, and selecting the “Save your parking” option in the menu the list that pops up. (Note: You need to be signed into Google Maps or the feature won’t show up, even if you install the beta.)

Tap your location to mark where you're leaving your car.

Tap your location to mark where you’re leaving your car.

Image: screenshot: mashable

Add parking notes.

Add parking notes.

Image: SCREENSHOT: MASHABLE

Once you’ve done that, you can then add parking notes (i.e. parking lot floor), set a timer to remind you how long you can park your car for, and even add photos to remind you of the surroundings.

Set a timer.

Set a timer.

Image: screenshot: mashable

Add some photos of your surroundings!

Add some photos of your surroundings!

Image: SCREENSHOT: MASHABLE

Apple Maps on iOS 10 has a car similar feature to help you find your parked car, but it requires a Bluetooth connection between your iPhone and car. But at least Maps will automatically mark your parked car’s location as soon as you leave your car. Maps also lets you add notes and photos to your parked car’s location, too.

For now, the handy parked car reminder features for Google Maps are limited to the Android beta version. There’s no word on when it’ll become a public release or when it’ll hit iOS.