A fully-automated Remote Valet Parking Assistant will be one of the major highlights of the German carmaker’s appearance at the CES 2015.

BMW will be bringing a specially adapted version of its i3 electric car to the show that can safely negotiate a multi-storey parking lot, and identify and park in an available space with no human input at all.

All the owner has to do is get out and activate the system via his or her smartwatch and leave the car to its own devices.

Even smarter still, the car can work out exactly when its owner is returning and meet him or her at the entrance.

BMW i3 electric car interior

Self-parking cars are not new. In fact one of the stars of the 2013 International CES was an Audi A7 that could park and un-park itself when the driver activated a smartphone app. What makes BMW’s system that little bit special is how the car navigates the parking lot.

GPS systems are unreliable indoors, as anyone who’s tried setting the satnav while in a multi-storey parking lot can attest to.

So the BMW system uses a system of four lasers in conjunction with a detailed digital map of the space.

As well as straight forward navigation, the lasers can identify oncoming traffic, pedestrians, when a space is occupied and when a car is badly parked and needs to be avoided.

The other benefit is that parking lots won’t have to invest in complex infrastructure or sensors that communicate with cars for mapping purposes.

The BMW system is equally effective on the open road, providing 360° collision avoidance and alerting the driver as to potential obstacles and even taking control in emergencies, turning the wheel and applying the brakes.

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