DETROIT -- I often visit major suppliers to see what technologies they are working on. Recent visits to Visteon Corp. and Valeo North America threw me into a bit of a funk.
They are working to create a cloud-based, always-connected information pod. Taking a back seat is the joy of driving.
Yes, I know safety will be improved by sensor-laden cars able to "see" the road from all angles, communicate with other vehicles and apply the brakes to avoid accidents.
I can see the value in a system that Valeo is creating that enables a vehicle to automatically park itself after depositing you at the entrance of a building. Valeo's automated valet parking system is truly an amazing piece of work.
At a Valeo press event in June, an early-development version of the parking system installed in a Range Rover Evoque showed great potential.
Imagine you are on your way to a restaurant or office building and it suddenly begins raining. You don't have your umbrella. You drive up to the building's front lobby, get out, press a button on the key fob and the vehicle parks itself in the nearest non-handicap space. When you are ready to leave, you press the same button on the fob and your vehicle automatically arrives at the front door.
While automated valet parking might be nice to have, I certainly wouldn't use it often, nor would I pay much for it. I like to be involved in driving. It's something I enjoy, even if sometimes I have to actually walk to and from a parking lot.