One of the biggest pains about driving in urban areas is about to get a lot, lot easier. Really, it's a two-part pain:
1. Finding a good parking spot at a good (or free) price, and
2. Actually parking your vehicle.
Thanks to exciting advances in connected car technology (a subset of the Internet of Things), in the near future you won't even have to think about these things. Apps and sensors will take care of it all for you.
Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) is among the leaders in this coming parking technology. In fact, CEO Mark Fields and CTO Raj Nair highlighted the company's entire mobility initiatives in a keynote at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
In the video below, I use amazing footage to show you how your parking problems will soon be a thing of the past.
You'll be hearing the phrase "connected car" more and more often in the coming years. Here's a concrete example of how it will change your life:
Looking for a parking space in a crowded city? No problem. Just open up your parking app and it will show you where the nearby [available] spaces are, and how much they cost. What's more, when you get there, no more worries about parallel parking into a tight space. Just sit back, relax, and let your vehicle park itself.
How will all this magic happen?
[Dave McCreadie, Ford:] "What we tried to do with this project is to demonstrate how sensors that are currently on our vehicles in production today, which detect objects around the vehicle, can be used as a person naturally drives through parking areas to sense whether vehicles are in parking spaces or not. Then if that data is taken from the sensors and off-boarded to a cloud, it can be aggregated to provide a richer data environment so that you, as another person who is trying to look to park their car, can use this data feed from all these other cars to say, 'Oh, there's an open spot one block over.'"
That means once we get our vehicles talking to one other, there will be an explosion of data that will make our lives incredibly easier. Not only for parking, but literally hundreds of other problems as well. You may never hit another pothole again, for example. Let's say someone a quarter mile ahead of you does hit one, and the next car swerves to miss it. If this data -- force of impact, sudden change of direction -- is instantly collected by your own car, it can alert you: Caution, possible pothole ahead. The data would also be automatically transmitted to whichever municipal agency is responsible for repairing the problem. Money saved, accidents avoided.
It's all part of a huge shift in the transportation industry as automakers prepare for a future that eventually leads to driverless cars.
[Raj Nair, CTO, Ford] "You know, obviously we are a car, a truck, an SUV company and build great cars, trucks, and SUVs. But really, we're a mobility company at heart, and you see a real confluence of technology and society trends that could really change personal mobility, whether it's urbanization, the growth of the middle class, air quality in urban cities, connectivity, autonomous vehicles. All of those are going to have a significant change in the way mobility is viewed by people looking to get from Point A to Point B."
Now, this won't happen overnight. But I'm willing to bet we'll see more amazing changes in our vehicles in the next 10 years than in any other decade in the industry's history. There may be a few speed bumps along the way....
[Raj Nair:] "But it can be like that old, ancient Indian curse: May you live in exciting times."
But this is a great time for us car geeks to be alive.
On the road again.... I'm Motley Fool analyst Rex Moore.