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Audi software update equips Connect-enabled cars with parking recommendations

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Starting today, all Audi Connect-enabled cars will receive an over-the-air update that adds location-aware parking information to their infotainment systems. The company tells CNET that the new feature will "seamlessly" integrate with Audi's on-board navigation systems, allowing users to browse nearby parking lots and see how many spaces are free. The new parking feature relies on data from Inrix, which says it has data on 18,000 North American parking lots (covering "every major city"), and 42,000 in Europe. Last month, Audi began pushing out another update to its Connect system that polled gas stations to find the cheapest gas nearby.

Expanding on the idea that cars are, just like consumer electronics, upgradable, updatable objects, Audi recently began piloting a feature that lets drivers automatically pay for parking. Currently live for "up to 13,000" cars in the small German city of Ingolstadt, the system uses an RFID transmitter to notify a parking when you enter or leave, automatically deducting payment based on the details given when registering. The plan is for all Audi Connect cars to have access to wireless parking payment by the end of this year. Although each individual addition to Audi's Connect feature set is small, the automation of all of the tiny details is vital if Audi is to make its self-driving car a reality.