Audi will test self-parking cars in Somerville, Massachusetts, as part of an agreement with the US city that focuses on developing a new urban mobility strategy.
The German car maker will work with city officials to apply technologies and build infrastructure for automated parking, as well as link connected cars with traffic lights.
Audi CEO Rupert Stadler explained: “The intelligent car can unfold its enormous potential only in an intelligent city. Our joint work on urban innovations and the exchange and analysis of data are the key to beneficial swarm intelligence.”
In the long term, the partners aim to develop innovations that reduce the amount of space cars require in the city and increase the speed of traffic flow.
According to Audi, self-parking cars could bring three notable benefits:
1. Parking garages can be relocated from the city centre to less attractive places.
2. The parking area required per car is reduced by approximately two square metres. The cars park closer together and need fewer, much narrower lanes in garages, where pedestrian paths, lifts and stairs are no longer required. A parking garage of the same size can then take up to 60% more vehicles – sufficient to end parking by the roadside.
3. There will be fewer cars on the roads searching for a place to park.
“Parking is expensive to build and uses a huge land area,” commented Chris Weilminster from real-estate developer Federal Realty Investment Trust. “Decreasing the amount of parking would allow developers to use that land area for other purposes that benefit the consumer experience while also controlling costs, and driving profitability.”
Joseph A. Curtatone, the mayor of Somerville, welcomed the new agreement with Audi.
“The car will always be part of our mobility,” he said. “At the same time, due to congestion and parking problems, today it shows us the limits to mobility. With technologies from Audi we expect to be able to use the available urban space more efficiently. This enhances the quality of urban life.”