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Parking Stress Relief part 4: Changes in the parking industry and how you can keep up

So far in this series we’ve looked at the issues caused by poor parking and the technology that’s currently available to solve these issues. But with the pace of change in technology and the bluster surrounding the arrival of autonomous cars you can be forgiven for not feeling confident in what to do next.

In this, the final part of our series, we’ll take a pragmatic look at the likely developments in the parking sector and what you need to be thinking of now to keep your parking a positive experience for all.

First, it should be acknowledged that the technology outlined in parts two and three is still not widely used. We have examples of using global counts to inform city-wide variable message signs (VMS) to let drivers know where the nearest parking space is, using bay sensors for on-street parking to inform a parking app, even combining both in a company car park.

But these examples are by no means common place. Most employers don’t yet offer this perk and staff still face the frustrating search for a space at the start of every day. Similarly, most car parks in towns and cities or at retail centres provide no guidance on where available spaces are. So, the first step is to deploy the parking technology available now.

We’re confident this won’t be obsolete any time soon and by not doing so you risk missing out on parking revenue/use of your facility by connected vehicles.

Connected vehicles need connected car parks

Connected cars are already here! A connected car has internet access that allows it to communicate with other information services, for example the car will notify the emergency services if it is involved in a collision. Connected vehicles make journeys ever easier for the driver. They can plan the best route all the way from automatically diverting around traffic, to finding the best parking space at the destination. To do this they rely on data. This can come from other connected cars, but they also need smart parking technology to establish where non-connected cars are parked. If your car park isn’t providing data that these connected cars can access, they won’t see the car park – risking losing you revenue and reducing visitor numbers.

The connected vehicle market is projected to see 270% growth by 2022. This growth will likely force the issue of parking occupancy monitoring. Connected vehicles guiding drivers to the best available space solve the issue of finding the space, but can’t increase a car parks capacity. This is something promised by automated parking, a likely precursor to autonomous vehicles.

Automated Valet Parking is on its way

Automated valet parking (AVP) is where drivers arrive at a drop-off point and the vehicle autonomously drives away to park. Members of the public will be able to trial this at the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart, Germany later this year. Visitors will be able to reserve a Mercedes-Benz car to travel to the museum and leave it in the drop off zone. The car park will then handle the parking using sensors and cameras to move the into a parking space.

A car park operating such a system can accommodate up to 62% more cars than a conventional parking area, according to research from the University of Toronto. The obvious reason for this gain is that drivers don’t need to be able to get out of their cars, so less space is needed either side of the vehicle. The less obvious gain comes from a reduction in the space needed between rows as multiple cars can be instructed to move out of the way to let a car out.

Such systems are likely to become commonplace far sooner than self-driving cars on the road as the vehicles are operating in a controlled environment at low speeds, which minimises the concerns around safety and issues.

Self-driving cars won’t completely solve parking stress

Ultimately, we’ll be using self-driving cars. Unfortunately, there is no clear indication of when this is likely to happen. While you can already buy a vehicle with an autopilot system that will handle many driving tasks, you still need to be in the driving seat and able to take back control when needed. These vehicles also come with a very high price point. At Clearview, we believe it will be decades before self-driving cars become commonplace.

When they do, we will still need somewhere for them to park. These car parks will be able to fit cars in more tightly as with AVP, but the vehicle will still need to know where the car park is and where there is a space. It’s been suggested that self-driving cars will operate on a lift-share model, so picking up other passengers rather than parking. But as long as people continue to work largely the same hours on largely the same days there is going to be a need for car parks for the times outside of rush hour.

What should you do now?

If your car park is working well for you now, do nothing, but be ready to respond to the growth in connected cars. If your car park generates revenue for you, you’ll need to respond sooner so that you don’t miss out on drivers who expect their connected car to recommend the space.

If you have issues with your car park with people unable to find the available spaces leading to stress and frustration now is the time to resolve these issues. Monitoring the use of your car park will allow you to share occupancy information with your users and you will have the data to feed into parking apps and connected systems as and when you need it.

Get in touch to understand how we can help you optimise your parking today.

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