BMW's Remote Valet

Here is BMW’s ‘solution’ to self-parking cars: a remotely piloted ‘Mechanical Turk’ service. That is, rather than hand the keys over to a valet at some fancy venue, you press a button and some poor paid person a world away pilots your expensive ride to some parking slot, where it awaits your summons.

So here’s question number one: the one place one regularly sees wireless outage is in a parking garage.

If I had a dollar for every automated self-parking demo I’ve seen over the years, many of which happened at CES, I’d probably have enough money to tip a Las Vegas valet, folks whose jobs are still very secure.

But that might actually be changing soon. Given all those earlier demos that went nowhere, I wasn’t particularly enthused when I heard that BMW and Valeo were demonstrating yet another implementation of a car parking itself for the 2024 CES in Las Vegas.

The core concept is a simple one. You pull up to the entrance of wherever you want to go. Instead of dealing with the drudgery of parking your own car or risking paying to let some red-vested teenager take your car for a joyride, you get out, tap a button in the My BMW app, and walk away.

The car parks itself, and when you’re done, you just open the app, tap the button again, and the car magically returns to pick you up.

The secret is that the car is not truly parking itself. This isn’t a limited case of driving autonomy. You’re actually handing over control of your car to a real human sitting in a sort of call center full of sim racing rigs.


Oh My God Wow GIF by Mashed


I know a couple of driving schools who use simulators with a set-up pretty much like this one. You know, to give pupils a bit of training in the basics before they get to drive an actual car.
BMW could outsource this valet thingy to schools. I’m sure this would provide learning opportunities for everyone involved.



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The only thing I can think of seeing that setup is the scene from Batman Returns when the Penguin takes remote control of the Batmobile to terrorize Gotham.



Does the app allow you to tip the remote valet?


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