Cities are growing fast – and so is the demand for parking. Urban areas need to change how they manage their increasingly tight space.
Technology is already helping us manage parking, telling us where spaces are and allowing us to pay through our smartphones.
But now parking needs to go one step further, making the best use of the technology to use urban space in the most efficient way.
What might that look like?
1. An AI-based platform will coordinate all the parking spaces in a city
Parking management systems that involve the wider community will be the essence of smart cities. Benefits will include parking price optimization – for those willing to pay a premium for location – as well as parking guidance and a reduction in time spent looking for a space. The system will guide drivers to a space based on their preferences.
2. The electrification of vehicles
As more and more electric vehicles hit the road, charging capacities will become a major factor in getting around in cities, and will add another dimension to parking management.
3. Robots will park our cars
With robotic technology gathering pace, it’s not inconceivable that we could leave a car with a robot who will then park it for us. “The robotic valet is being spoken about,” says Dr Prasant Misra, Research and Innovation Scientist at Tata Consultancy Services, and author of whitepaper The Future of Smart Parking Systems. “There are concepts around it and the tech is coming together. However, the business case also has to come into play, so it makes sense from an economic point of view to actually engage those systems in the parking play.”
4. We may never park our own car again
In the future, fewer city dwellers will choose to own a car, opting to lease, rent, share and hail them instead. Moreover, these are likely to be autonomous vehicles that may well be able to park themselves. “The scale of need is so large that, yes, we will have self-driving and self-parking cars and other things,” says Dr Misra. “But we will still have vehicles at one end and self-driving on the other.”
5. The commoditization of parking
Even though cities will increasingly struggle for parking capacity, there will still be plenty of private space. Apps already exist that allow drivers to hire a private parking space – something that is becoming known as the “uberization” of parking. “The ‘uberization’ model will definitely pick up,” says Dr Misra. “I think people will want to use that model to park in city centres.”
In the future, parking will be an interplay of individuals, parking operators and different types of vehicles, becoming part of a much wider urban ecosystem that allows for the right parking at the right place at the right price.