BMW is back at CES next month with a self-driving i3 that finds a space in a multi-story car lot, parks itself, and comes back to the driver when summoned through a smartwatch app. And it doesn't even need GPS.
The i3 research vehicle does something similar to what Audi showed off two years ago, but unlike the self-parking A7 that used a combination of onboard sensors and beacons to traverse the garage, BMW takes it a step further.
BMW modified the i3 with four laser sensors that provide a 360-degree view of what's around the car, navigating around other vehicles, columns, and pedestrians, sans-driver. It then finds an available space, parks, locks itself, and waits for the driver to call it through a voice command on their smartwatch.
But like Audi's system from 2013, there's a rub. The Remote Valet Parking Assistant needs a digital map of the parking garage to navigate safely. BMW touts it as a way to ditch unreliable GPS in a car park, but it's just another part of a larger infrastructure puzzle that's going to be difficult to work out before these self-parking systems come online.
Sure, it's no self-drifting 1-series, but it's helluva lot more useful.