Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misidentified Pete Rahn and his title.
LINTHICUM HEIGHTS, Md. — While others chase the dream of developing autonomous systems capable of driving for miles and miles along public roads, Steer, a Maryland technology startup, has found a niche developing a fully self-driving system that operates in private parking lots.
Imagine arriving at the airport, unloading luggage at the curb, and then sending a vehicle to park itself instead of spending time hunting for a spot in the nether reaches of long-term parking. That's one scenario Steer is currently piloting in a project at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in Maryland.
Or imagine shoppers emerging from a mall with bags in hand, able to summon their own car via an app to pick them up at the entrance.
While surveys suggest nearly three-quarters of consumers are afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, Steer founder and CEO Anuja Sonalker bets they won't mind driving their own car, then sending it away to park itself.
Even though this is a Level 4 autonomous system, she'd prefer consumers think of this as something beyond the technology itself.