Space is precious in our cities – and so is time. Where the two factors meet? In our hunt for parking spots. Spots can be few and far between: According to a study, searching for a parking space is responsible for up to 30 per cent of all urban traffic! So, to free time (and space) for the finer things in life, the following five proposals by progressive developers, architects, and city planners promise to ease the search for a spot (and your car!) with intelligent parking solutions.

1. Expand your parking horizon

In many cities, snaring a parking space still takes an eagle eye – and plenty of patience. Some tech specialists now aim to cut the chase with novel approaches. Siemens, for example, has developed a parking space radar that, when installed in lamp posts every 500 yards or so, alerts users to free spots via a dedicated app. Already being tested in Berlin, the system is designed for incorporation into third-party navigation solutions and route planners. It could even support special parking permits for local residents or disabled users. A test case for intelligent parking? Time will tell – the system is currently scheduled for further trial in Dubai!

2. Share the joy

Along similar lines, the following project makes the most of the current prevalence of GPS-enabled smartphones: Parking space apps that help us to find spots or remember where we left our car are becoming increasingly popular. True to the sharing economy spirit, Daimler not only boosts urban mobility with its successful car sharing project, but also targets the parking challenge with a dedicated website and app (see our previous feature). The idea behind it seems deceptively simple: People who don’t need their own private parking space – or those who can promise when it will be free – can make some cash by offering it to others. Since its launch in late 2013, this synergistic park2gether project has continued to evolve. It’s the perfect example of new solutions to an old project. After all, even the future’s flying cars will need a place to park when off-duty.

3. Go fetch the car, Ray

Speaking of the future – are you ready to try the future of parking? At Dusseldorf Airport, PremiumPLUS Parking makes endless rounds of full parking levels a thing of the past. Here, a modern butler takes care of all your parking needs: After you drop your car in a designated hand-over box, parking robot Ray first scans your car for size and then drops it in one of 260 possible spots – a surprisingly fast and pleasant process, as our trial revealed. Ray requires no help or supervision and slots your car in place while you’re already on your way to the plane. Or he retrieves it well before your arrival if you alert him via a smartphone app. Valet parking at its best (and most futuristic)!

4. Never search for your car again

Ever forgot where you parked your car? You are certainly not alone: Many drivers complain about finding their way around modern car parks. According to a study by the UK’s major parking provider, National Car Parks Ltd., a whopping 44 per cent of all drivers confessed that they had no clear idea where they had parked their car. Aware of this issue, US firm Park Assist has made it its mission to provide a helping hand – or camera. To reunite you with your car, the system simply scans all number plates and then displays each vehicle’s position on a central monitor. Right now, such license plate recognition technology is mainly used by the police or public authorities and often associated with legal or data security issues. Yet here, in the confines of a closed car park cosmos, it can certainly provide welcome transparency and added security. Current testing grounds for this stress-free parking tech include several shopping centers as well as the airports of Canberra, Adelaide, and Auckland.

The US firm Park Assist helps us to find our car
Photo: Park Assist
The system simply scans all number plates
Photo: Park Assist
Then it displays each vehicle’s position on a central monitor
Photo: Park Assist

5. Opt for uplifting solutions

Pressing lack of space often forces designers, architects, and engineers to approach parking from new perspectives. Take mega metropolises like Tokyo where available spots are so rare that practically the entire city has converted to automated lift-based car parks, allowing more cars to be stored on the same square footage. Yet back in the 1960s, Chicago already paved the way for this vertical approach with its two iconic Marina City towers: The bottom third of both buildings are entirely devoted to parking, topped by further apartment levels. We are certainly up for such lofty ideas – and ready to scale new parking heights in the near future.

Vertical parking in Chicago's Marina City towers
Vertical parking in Chicago’s Marina City towers
Photo: Vincent desjardins, CC BY 2.0 via Flickr


Header Image: park2gether