SpotHero introduces over 500 autonomous vehicle-ready parking facilities in Chicago

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Illinois-based technology company SpotHero has announced that more than 500 connected parking facilities in its hometown of Chicago are now ready for autonomous vehicles (AVs) through its HeroConnect platform.

Launched in 2011, SpotHero has grown to be North America’s largest parking marketplace, with more than 5,000 facilities operating in over 50 major metropolitan areas, and more than a million parking spaces booked every month.

With multi-modal transportation becoming the new standard, the company believes that parking will play a foundational role in the future of mobility, whether vehicles are driven by people or driverless. SpotHero says that it is committed to working with its partners and operators to future-proof parking facilities with technology that will both improve the driver experience today and support the driverless revolution tomorrow.

SpotHero foresees a future where AVs are not necessarily owned by individuals, but are part of a shared urban mobility ecosystem. The company notes that the dramatic increase of ridesharing in recent years has led to more congestion and traffic, not less. It cites New York City as an example, where there has been a 59% increase in ride-for-hire vehicles on city streets, slowing average speeds during business hours to just 6mph (10km/h) – a 15% decrease since 2010.

A major problem is that as many as half of these vehicles are ‘dead heading’, which is driving around empty while waiting for passengers. The result is an increase in wear and tear on city streets, reduced funding for public transit, and escalating congestion.

SpotHero is preparing for a future that includes AVs by giving their parking facilities the tools they need to accommodate them. The 500+ Chicago parking garages, lots and other facilities have been equipped with license plate recognition (LPR) systems, IoT (Internet of Things) sensor technologies, and other forms of license plate redemption that will allow vehicles to book, pay, enter and exit seamlessly.

The AV-ready parking facilities use technology-driven transactions that are powered by SpotHero’s HeroConnect platform, a parking API (application programming interface) and SDK (software development kit) that functions as the connective tissue allowing drivers, vehicles, garages, car manufacturers, and cities to communicate and exchange data and payments. It uses the same technology that will empower AVs to find and book a parking space, pay, and enter and exit the facility seamlessly. SpotHero says more AV-ready parking facilities will be launching across the USA later this year.

“We are prepared for autonomous vehicles to arrive on city streets, and in parking facilities,” said Mark Lawrence, CEO and co-founder of SpotHero. “Through our deep relationships with parking operators, more than 500 existing parking facilities are now equipped with the technology for autonomous vehicles to seamlessly reserve, enter, exit and pay. By pairing existing physical infrastructure of parking facilities with our digital infrastructure, these AV-ready garages offer a real-world glimpse of what the parking future looks like for urban mobility.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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