Audi tells you where to park it

As of Wednesday, Audis with Audi Connect get a new parking feature in an over-the-air update which will help drivers find open parking spots.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
2 min read
2013 Audi S7
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Looking for parking in city often leads to endless driving in circles, wasting gasoline, and polluting the air, and can lead many to reconsider their evening plans. But this is exactly the problem being targeted by new technology on both the automaker and infrastructure side.

Audi just announced the first parking assistance system, linking its built-in navigation system to the growing amount of information available from parking garages.

According to Pom Malhotra, director of connected vehicles for Audi, the new parking service will work seamlessly with the navigation system of Audi models equipped with Audi Connect. When an Audi owner gets in her vehicle and enters a destination, she can then choose the parking feature from the car's online services menu. It will show a list of parking garages and lots near the destination.

Most entries will show the garage's hours and rates, but for garages with a high-tech infrastructure, the car will show how many spaces are available.

Selecting an option from the list, which can be sorted by price or distance from the original destination, the address of the parking garage will be entered as a waypoint in the navigation system. Malhotra boasts that not only does the system include the location of the parking garage, but it will guide the driver to the actual entrance, which might be on a different street than the garage's street address.

As the garage location is integrated with the navigation system, the owner can also use Google Street View, also mixed in with Audi navigation, to get a photographic look at the entrance.

This new parking feature is being made possible through a partnership with Inrix, a company originally known for gathering real-time traffic data. Inrix has been building up a database of parking garages and lots, along with useful details about their operations and number of spaces. Inrix Senior Product Manager Mark Pendergrast told CNET that the company has data on over 18,000 parking garages and lots in North America, covering every major city. In addition, Inrix will be providing Audi with data on 42,000 parking facilities in Europe.

Competing with Tesla on the upgradable car front, Audi will launch the new parking feature as an over-the-air update to any existing and new Audi models equipped with the Audi Connect online service. Owners of Audi models with Audi Connect can expect to find the new feature in their cars as of Wednesday.

Pendergrast told CNET that Inrix is developing further capabilities for the system, such as giving drivers the capability of rating each parking facility and arranging electronic payment for parking spaces.