BMW Is Building Cars You Can Park With Your Smartwatch

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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BMW announced Tuesday plans to show off the latest in automated driving at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in January, including fully automated parking users can activate via smartwatch.

The company pulled the curtain back on autonomous tech in an M235i at last year’s show capable of drifting around a track at high speed, completely driver-free. For its latest round of features, the company built a 360-degree collision avoidance system into an i3. (RELATED: BMW Debuts Self-Driving, Self-Drifting Car At CES 2014 [VIDEO])

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Dubbed the “Remote Valet Parking Assistant,” the system uses four laser scanners in conjunction with the digital site plan of a building, such as a multi-story parking garage, which a driver can activate with a smartwatch.

“If the driver uses the smartwatch to activate the fully-automated Remote Valet Parking Assistant, the system will steer the vehicle independently through the levels, while the driver has already got out of the car and is on his way to a business appointment,” BMW explained in a Tuesday press release.

After activation, the car recognizes the building and autonomously makes its way up to a parking space, avoiding unexpected obstacles such as incorrectly parked cars along the way, until arriving and locking automatically, awaiting the driver’s next 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,” the company said.

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Combining a digital building blueprint with BMW’s 360-degree sensor system — which features a LIDAR (light radar) system, onboard cameras, sonic sensors and 360-degree radar along with electronic throttle, braking and steering — means the car doesn’t have to rely on navigation via GPS, as such signals are often unreliable around large, concrete buildings.

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Giuseppe Macri