Conventional cars drive the bulk of Chicago-based SpotHero‘s business, but the parking inventory and booking startup is setting its sights on a driverless future.
Today, it announced that more than 500 of its connected parking garages in Chicago have been adapted to accommodate autonomous cars, trucks, and SUVs.
“Significant strides in both vehicle and parking technologies are creating major opportunities for parking facilities like ours to enhance drivers’ parking experiences,” Jeff Eckerling — senior vice president at SP+, a parking facility management service provider that’s collaborating with SpotHero — said in a statement. “Drivers want to have a seamless parking experience — from reservation to payment to entering and exiting the facility. Whether drivers are parking their cars today or autonomous vehicles take the wheel tomorrow, our collaboration with SpotHero contributes to driving real business and preparing for change.”
SpotHero’s upgraded garages are outfitted with sensors that will allow self-driving car operators to book and pay for parking spaces, including license plate scanners and connected parking meters. On the software side, the HeroConnect software development kit and API will facilitate payments and let vehicles, carmakers, ridesharing services, and cities exchange parking data.
The idea is that Uber, Lyft, Waymo, and the hundreds of other automakers and self-driving car startups will rent spaces from SpotHero as needed.
“Autonomous cars won’t make parking go away,” SpotHero CEO and cofounder Mark Lawrence told VentureBeat in a phone interview.
Researchers forecast that a self-driving car could replace up to 12 regular vehicles and that they’ll require significantly less parking space. But Lawrence intimated that autonomous cars would need a place where they can be recharged and maintained, tasks for which not all conventional garages are equipped.
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