What if the car parked itself?

Once we’re all driving autonomous cars, we can simmer down and don’t have to argue over parking anymore.

Big Questions #1:
When we’re all driving autonomous cars, don’t we have to argue about parking anymore?

Imagine a day in the not-too distant future and pick your preferred scenario:

  • Your shared robo-taxi pulls up to the desired destination. You get out, it drives off, and you don’t spend a thought on where to find parking.
  • You drive your own vehicle. After arriving outside a restaurant, you pull out your smartphone to literally swipe the car away and off it rolls.

The car parks itself somewhere close-by, having received an over-the-air update of available spots that other cars in the vicinity have broadcast. And it will quickly and dutifully reappear once you summon it back.

A much too common and unhealthy habit

Either way you choose, this much is certain: Once we’re all driving autonomous cars, we can simmer down and don’t have to argue over parking anymore. Which, it turns out, is a much too common and unhealthy habit.

The average American spends 17 hours a year searching for parking spots on streets, in lots, or in garages, according to traffic analytics company INRIX. That wastes an estimated $345 per driver in time, fuel, and emissions. Even worse, people overpay around $97 per head a year for parking because they’re afraid of getting a ticket.

In space-constrained Germany, the time wasted circling for a spot is even higher, coming in at a shocking 41 hours a year.

The average American spends 17 hours a year searching for parking spots

Statistically speaking, there is no need for this behaviour since there are enough spots to go around. The U.S. has around 300 million vehicles but at least one billion parking spots (by some counts that number is even higher). Parking spots, in short, do exist. But they are not evenly distributed, as sci-fi writer William Gibson likes to joke about the future.

The temporal and spatial imbalance of parking spots and roaming car is what sets people off. We get angry, yell at strangers, some even skip doctor appointments out of parking angst.

And we vent. One in five men and one in seven women have had a verbal confrontation with another driver in a parking lot, including using certain, not friendly gestures. Eight percent of men and only two percent of women have actually resorted to some form of hand-to-hand combat over a parking spot.

We yell at strangers

Now consider this: how nice it would be to just yell at a self-parking app that takes too long to launch, or flipping off your autonomous vehicle as it shows up a minute later than advised?

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