Will parking get easier in the future?

We've all been there, scouring a crowded parking lot for an empty space only to come up trumps. Some of us even take this a step further and awkwardly follow people back to their cars in the hope they will be leaving soon. 

Surely there's an easier way to do this. What if we could simply get out of our car and let it park itself while we go about our day? Sounds like nothing more than a tantalising fantasy, right?

Not quite. It's now very much a reality, with manufacturers and infrastructure providers both working in tandem to ensure that fleet managers know their vehicles are parked safely at all times. 

Which cars can park themselves?

Believe it or not, this is a reasonably common feature, and not necessarily limited to ridiculously expensive luxury vehicles that have more in common with spaceships than cars. 

Volkswagen's park assist technology has perfected a manoeuvre that has eluded most of the country's drivers - parallel parking. Thanks to a complex array of sensors and computers, cars equipped with the system can steer themselves into tight parking spots. All the driver has to do is work the pedals. 

While this is a big help, it still doesn't deliver on the original promise. So which cars can park themselves without any input from the driver?

For that, eager fleet managers will have to wait for the next BMW 7 series. While the current model offers park assist to the same extent as Volkswagen, the next update will allow drivers to get out and have the vehicle take over. 

The new technology lets the car operate all of the vehicle's controls, meaning it can be slipped in to tight spaces that normally wouldn't have enough space to let the driver out. When you return, it can then remove itself from the space, allowing the driver to get in and take off. 

How else will parking get smarter?

The ways in which people pay for and reserve parking spaces are also set to change, and are likely to make use of the interconnected nature of modern cars. This will result in parking buildings that are easier to navigate and more efficient, as drivers will no longer need to stop to buy a ticket.

Instead, a form of contactless payment system can be used, similar to how toll roads around Australia currently function. Drivers will also be able to book parking spaces remotely, removing the dreaded search for a park at peak hours.