Waze just got better at finding parking - are Google's self-driving cars next?

Waze just better at finding parking - are Google's self-driving cars next?

Google's easy-nav Waze is getting a boost to help take the pain out of finding parking, a welcome addition to the app that already helps cut down on drive times.

The app, which uses real-time data to avoid traffic congestion and other bumps in the road, is teaming up with transportation data firm INRIX to help users sniff out places to park, according to The Verge.

Waze already sports a parking feature that allows users to search for spots to leave their car before they arrive, but now that the Google-owned company is teaming up with INRIX, the results will be much more accurate, instantaneous and helpful.

INRIX gathers traffic and infrastructure data for use by car manufacturers, governments, and even news sources, aggregating information Waze would find useful, such as available parking areas and fares, if applicable.

The extra help couldn't come any sooner. According to an official business statement, drivers in North America and Europe wasted an average of 55 hours last year rubbernecking for a place to park.

"Driving from point A to B is only part of the journey," said Alex Israel, INRIX vice president and general manager of parking. "The addition of INRIX parking enhances Wazers' end-to-end driving experience."

Driving Miss Wazey

Speaking of end-to-end, a longer-term advantage of Waze's partnership with INRIX could be improving self-driving cars.

While it remains unconfirmed if the Google will use Waze's new parking data to support its autonomous vehicle division, the intel could help self-driving vehicles to not just get between destinations, but also locate places to stop at the end of their journeys.

Some self-driving car concepts still require the driver to go hands-on for certain procedures when driving - particularly when it comes to looking around for a place to stop. With Waze's tech and INRIX's data, Google could in theory outfit its cars to handle that particularly tedious step instead of the driver.

We haven't heard much from Google's auto-automotive division since this year's I/O conference, but we wouldn't be surprised if the company has continued to step up its self-driving game in the time since.

Parker Wilhelm
Parker Wilhelm is a freelance writer for TechRadar. He likes to tinker in Photoshop and talk people's ears off about Persona 4.