One of my favorite statistics ever is that 30 percent of drivers in cities are circling the block to find parking. The traffic data nerds at Inrix thinks it’s found the solution, snagging data from a host of sources to create a heat map of where to find open spaces, and it’s coming to BMW later this year.

Inrix supplies traffic data to eight of the 10 largest automakers, and now it’s aggregating data pulled from city vehicles, connected cars, vehicle sharing services, real-time parking data, and it’s ridiculously expansive amount of vehicle GPS data to determine the best place to park any time of the day.

BMW is showing off the technology in prototype form on an i3 this week at a connected car conference outside of Detroit. The data is served through BMW’s ConnectedDrive system, and uses Inrix’s data to not only show where parking is available, but how much it will cost, what time or vehicle restrictions are in affect, and if there’s nothing on the street, where the nearest lot is located.

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Pooling that data is something apps have attempted to do in the past, with varying levels of effectiveness, and San Francisco even toyed with sensors embedded in the pavement at parking spaces to collect data. That program – which ran from 2011 to 2013 – used thousands of sensors, but was eventually cancelled after the devices proved to be less-than-reliable (read: they broke a lot).

With the Inrix system, it’s simply tapping into the data it already has and then using a variety of algorithms to detect, predict, and highlight that data in real-time.

The system – which BMW is calling Dynamic Parking Prediction – is slated to land on a new model this year, and sources indicate that it’s almost assuredly going to equipped first in the new 7 Series.


Contact the author at damon@jalopnik.com.
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