Depressing fact: the average San Franciscan wastes almost a full work week and $1,100 worth of gas in "idle time" — meaning in traffic or circling for parking — every year. But before you get too down, look forward to this: a new arsenal of car technology, demo-ed by Ford this week at AT&T Park, is working to alleviate parking woes and the road rage associated with sitting in traffic.
In a windswept parking lot next to AT&T Park Tuesday, Ford showcased their 2012 line of "intelligent" cars, which essentially relay signals to each other to make driving a little less excruciating. Using an advanced Wi-Fi and GPS system and a 360-degree view of the road, these intelligent vehicles actually talk to one another to communicate car crashes, traffic jams and alternate driving routes.
But what use are all these intelligent cars without an intelligent road system in place? Ford is pouring money into partnerships with the federal government and other automakers to implement the infrastructure needed to get all the millions of cars on American roads speaking the same language, a la a real-life Cars.
And to tackle parking, they're revving up their mobile app-incubation tool AppLink, a spot where they'll nurture developers to create programs like SFpark and something they've dubbed "cloud parking," which will help drivers make real-time decisions about where parkings is available, and even reserve spots. All this information will ultimately be played back to the car using Ford's SYNC technology (the stuff that lets your car befriend your phone for a hands-free experience). Here's to hoping local app makers take parking guru David LaBua's lead and make a full-on parking guide with curb colors, little-known rules, and more.
But here's the coolest thing: For parallel parking trauma, there's the "Intelligent Parking" button. Simply press it and the cars will locate the curb-side spot, then take control of the wheel to seamlessly guide you in. All you have to do is tap the breaks a few times, shift into reverse and curb the wheels, of course.
In a city with 470,000 cars and only approximately 320,000 parking spots, we're all for making parking a little easier.