For some time, our advice at Level 5 Design has been that parking lots specifically designed for self-parking cars have the potential to take up 60% less space than traditional lots. Savings can be made on parking footprint, aisle widths, ramps, ceiling heights, finishes, stairs, elevators, lighting, security, boomgates, etc.
Now, research from the University of Toronto in Canada has backed this up, with their new study finding that parking lots for autonomous vehicles could hold up to 62% more vehicles than current parking lots! Not only is this good for developers, but it also means a better outcome for the driving public.
The study was done by a group of researchers who used a computer simulation to figure out the perfect size of a parking lot that had been designed specifically for autonomous vehicles. Not having to provide space for pedestrian access or for people to open their doors was taken into consideration when determining this perfect sized parking lot. The fact that connected autonomous vehicles have the ability to communicate with each other and to rearrange themselves also contributes to this outcome.
With large areas of our cities being allocated to parking, it only seems logical that the next step should be to research and identify new and innovative approaches to improve parking and to make better use of the space currently taken up by it. Autonomous vehicles will have the ability to park themselves, which means that they could effectively park outside urban areas, thereby allowing more room for commercial development, community and recreation areas, etc. It also means that where many of our city spaces are currently dominated by the car and the car parks that serve them, we can start giving more attention to the pedestrian environment and creating more active spaces for people to live, work and play.
An indicative illustration depicting the additional capacity that a car park designed for autonomous vehicles could provide versus a conventional car park.
Self-parking technology presents the opportunity for millions of people to be dropped off right outside the front door of their buildings without ever having to go near a car park. Self-parking vehicles will be equipped with all of the technology needed to safely navigate between the drop off point at your building and a car park without human supervision. The car park may be hundreds of metres away and might be above or below ground. Providing that the car park and access roadways from the building are adequately mapped within well-defined geofenced precincts and your vehicle is properly connected to the self-parking app, then self-parking vehicles will automatically manoeuvre to the car park, find a parking space, and then autonomously park until they are summoned again later for their next journey. Self-parking vehicles will return automatically on request, and the fact that they will self-park, eliminates the hassle of having to personally drive into the car park, find a suitable parking spot, park your vehicle, and then thread your way back to your destination on foot.
While autonomous vehicles with automated valet parking (AVP) capabilities will allow us to both decrease the size of car parks and free up valuable space in otherwise built up cities, a lot does need to be done to prepare for the transition to this future and how we manage the period in-between while we have a mixture of self-parking and conventionally parked vehicles. The evolution of the technology and the requirement to provide large parking lots is going to change dramatically over the next decade.
Bosch has publicly announced a predicted launch date of its self-parking AVP technology within 3 years. Other large vehicle technology suppliers such Valeo and Continental have also announced similar product launch dates, and one significant supplier has advised us that they have proven self-parking technology available for deployment within private developments right now.
There is definitely more work to be done to get this right and it will take many years for the technology to be rolled out as standard across the entire vehicle fleet. Nonetheless, some people will have access to the technology very soon, and having paid for a car enabled with it, they will want to use it. My view is that a dramatic change in thinking is needed right now, and those companies that start planning and designing for the introduction of self-parking technology now will reap the rewards.
Does your company fit that description? What are your thoughts?
What is innovation and how does it apply to transport? Is Australia a nation of innovation in the transport sector or is it a follower? Are we succeeding in our endeavours and what positive insights can be revealed?
Australia has for a long time been a leading global innovator in the design and regulation of large articulated trucks as the backbone of its freight and logistics industry. This is important as Australia spends approximately twice as much of its GDP per capita on transport as the average OECD country. By being innovative in road transport it has led the nation to be much more internationally competitive with its exports on a global stage.
So are driverless vehicles the nation’s greatest opportunity for success in transport innovation? ADVI, the Australia and New Zealand Driverless Vehicles Initiative, seems to think so. They believe that Australia’s early adoption, investment and leadership in this space will dictate our international competitiveness for many decades to come.
ADVI says these technologies will make driving easier, allow people to be more productive and offer greater mobility to a wider range of people than ever before. As a result, driverless vehicles will provide significant economic, environmental and social benefits including improving social inclusion.
Australia was the first nation in the southern hemisphere to demonstrate autonomous vehicles on its public road system in November 2015 when Volvo demonstrated its autonomous drive technology on the Southern Expressway in Adelaide.
Australia has the foundation for a growing industry to support the growth of automated vehicles. We already have some excellent success stories with locally grown companies like Cohda Wireless and Seeing Machines showing that we can be very effective innovators.
Unfortunately right now there are few automated vehicle technology companies headquartered in Australia and Australian companies also hold very few patents. A recent report by KPMG also highlights other barriers to the industry in Australia including a lack of electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging stations, limited availability of 4G communications throughout Australia, and the relatively poor quality of our regional road infrastructure. Often innovation is thwarted due to these types of external barriers. An example is the electric vehicle mobility space. Electric vehicles have been slow to be embraced in Australia for a number of reasons. Purchase cost and the distance able to be travelled on a charge remain key concerns.
According to the Electric Vehicle Council, Australia is falling behind on electric vehicle uptake. While there are two million electric vehicles on the road globally, they represent less than one tenth of one per cent of the market in Australia. And yet, a July 2018 survey by ACA Research revealed that 26% of all Australian’s would be interested in buying an electric vehicle as their next vehicle. And 80% believed electric vehicles will be mainstream within 5 to 10 years.
Will innovations in the hydrogen electric vehicle space go the same way? If we act now we can surely do better and establish a strong innovation ecosystem in hydrogen in Australia that achieves a better outcome.
Technology growth in transport is considered by many as ‘exponential’ right now. But what creates successful technology? Steve Wozniak, one of the co-founders of Apple, says it is “experience”. If consumers use it and have a positive experience then they’ll keep using it. If they don’t then it’s time to move to something different.
So in 2018 where does Australia stand with innovation in transport? Well we have many of the right ingredients including the talent and creativity to succeed. We also have many companies in the transport space like the RAC and Transurban that are embracing innovation and mainstreaming it into their core operations. So the future is bright but we do need to continue to implement new ideas and to build the supporting innovation ecosystem.
Peter Damen is the Principal and Managing Director of Level 5 Design, a specialist advisory and design consultancy dedicated to achieving valuable innovative outcomes for its customers in the rapidly evolving transport technology and infrastructure planning and design spaces.