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Pilot License

Ideas for the smart city

Self-parking cars and intelligent fleet management could help the world’s major cities save a great deal of space and money – and use this instead for greater quality of life. Audi is supporting the further development of metropolitan areas with innovative technologies and clever ideas.

In Somerville, a town in the middle of the Boston metropolitan area (USA), a former industrial wasteland is being transformed into Assembly Row, a new, high-end, waterfront neighborhood. The market-listed property developer Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRT) is planning a district with apartments, offices, shopping facilities and a hotel. Up-market “mixed-use developments” of this nature are intended to offer their residents the greatest possible quality of life within the city. Short routes and practical connections to the transportation network are critical elements. Nevertheless, around 40 percent of the surface area has to be reserved for parking – at a cost of around 25,000 dollars per space, “one of the biggest hurdles for the commercial viability of our developments”, according to Chris Weilminster, Executive Vice President of FRT and one of Audi’s new development partners.

This is where Audi’s technologies come into play. If plans were to include a parking structure for selfparking cars, this could theoretically save around 60 percent of the surface area in the Assembly Row project alone – equating to 100 million dollars. The parking surface required decreases by more than two square meters per car, the driving lanes become narrower, there is no need for staircases and elevators and the vehicles can also be parked behind one another in multiple rows.

Without piloted
parking technology

“Our team was amazed by how much space can actually be saved by using our Parkhouse Pilots,” says Dr. Miklós Kiss, Head of Advanced Development Driver Assistance Systems at Audi. “In the most extreme case, more than 80 percent of the surface area could be removed from a parking structure planned from scratch for piloted parking.” For the new site at Assembly Row, Audi has calculated that a parking garage prepared for piloted parking can save 26 percent of the surface area in the first building phase. This still assumes mixed usage with classic and self-parking cars.

By coupling this with an intelligent mobility service such as Audi Shared Fleet, usage time can also be significantly improved. For instance, the cars could be used privately by residents mornings and evenings, with business customers making use of the fleet by day. As it stands, average car usage is just five percent, with parking time accounting for 95 percent. If this ratio were switched, clever fleet management can result in a reduction of the necessary parking space. The same thing is guaranteed by the integrated service offering that ensures electric cars, which are charged inductively in the parking structure, always have the right charge status for the intended use.

With piloted
parking technology

Another benefit of piloted parking
is that parking structures
conceived entirely for self-parking cars
can be moved to less attractive locations. Users leave their cars
at a central location, after which it is piloted
along designated routes to a 
parking garageon a less premium site.

As a property developer, Weilminster sees the reduction of parking surface and thus costs achieved through self-parking cars and intelligent fleet management as a model idea for many mixed-use developments in the USA: “Not only could we substantially reduce our costs, but, first and foremost, we could also use the available space for apartments, shops or leisure facilities, i.e. things that raise the residents’ quality of life – and that ultimately gives us a real competitive benefit in the marketplace.”

Piloted parking is just one of the technologies with which Audi is seeking to support the smart cities of the future. As of 2016, a dedicated in-house team will push forward cooperations with cities and sound out where and how these technologies can be used most efficiently within metropolitan environments. The team members are contact points for decision-makers from the urban context, such as mayors, city and traffic planners, property developers and architects. “Some say that urbanization marks the end of individual automobility. For us, it’s a major source of future business models and therefore a core element of our corporate strategy,” says Audi CEO Rupert Stadler. Decisions are already being taken now that impact urban development plans for the year 2030, which is why now is the time to act.

Without piloted
parking technology

0% optimization
Traditional parking structures
use up a lot of space,
due also to extensive access ramps, staircases etc.

Together with partners from commerce and politics, Stadler introduced the first three Urban Future Partnerships at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona. According to Stadler, the Audi Urban Future Initiative founded in 2010 has enabled Audi to learn a great deal about the challenges involved in urban mobility and develop tailor-made solutions. The time has now come to implement these solutions for real within an urban setting. In a Memorandum of Understanding, Stadler and the Mayor of Somerville near Boston, Joseph A. Curtatone, have agreed the exchange of expertise, the trial of new technologies and a close cooperation in the development of a mobility strategy for Somerville. This means that Audi will be testing out the benefits of its new technologies for the city in two pilot projects running in the booming Boston metropolitan area.

The reconstruction of the city center at Union Square in Somerville will include the use of car-to-x technologies to improve traffic flow. At the same time, piloted parking will contribute to generating more space for other road users. For the new building plans at Assembly Row, Audi is working with property developer Federal Realty
Investment Trust to combine the benefits of piloted parking and intelligent fleet management. The third Urban Future Partnership to be presented in Barcelona is a joint project in Santa Fe, one of Mexico City’s most important business districts. Audi is cooperating with an association of interested parties from the business area to find ways out of the permanent traffic congestion. Stadler: “With our new urban solutions, we are turning individual mobility into an engine for greater quality of life.”

With piloted
parking technology

62% optimization
Piloted parking makes parking areas
more compact and drastically reduces traffic routes.