We all know that finding a nice spot to park your car in a crowded supermarket or mall parking lot can be extremely challenging. Parking lots rank high up the list of the great road equalizers, sitting comfortably with traffic. Everyone also has their own little way of finding that perfect spot. Most of the time, it's usually up to luck and timing; sometimes you wait a few minutes, sometimes just a few seconds. But what if we told you that scientists were able to do all the math for us to find the most efficient way to find a spot?
In the video above by the Santa Fe Institute, Paul Krapivsky and Sidney Redner have published a research paper on parking strategies, which you can read all about here. The idea was to come up with the best parking strategies to get a parking spot at a popular destination. Obviously, everyone wants the perfect parking space to be the one closest to the entrance and the one that let's you spend as little time in the parking lot as possible. Next, they came up with three distinct types of parkers, each with their own general strategy of tackling this classic problem.
"Meek" drivers are the ones who would rather take the first empty spot they see, regardless of the walk needed to exit the parking lot; they just want to deal with parking as quickly as possible. "Prudent" drivers always rely on not settling for the first slot they see, but by risking the idea that there's at least one empty spot in a group of cars closer to the entrance of the mall or supermarket. Lastly "optimistic" drivers just gamble and try to find the closest parking spot to the entrance as possible. While this has the best payoff, it can be incredibly difficult especially if the lot is crowded, leaving them to backtrack to the next available spot.
So which strategy works out the best? Watch the quick video to find out.