New valet feature lets drivers spy on their own cars

CBS News

Parking cars is an $18 billion industry in the U.S., but parking attendants don't get much of that cash. And if you've ever handed your car keys over to a valet, you've probably felt a bit nervous.

Now, technology developed for racing America's most iconic sports car is also being used to keep tabs on valets, CBS News' Brandon Scott reports.

In the 1986 cult classic "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," three Chicago teenagers put the fate of their fancy Ferrari in the hands of a suspicious valet.

And instead of parking the car, he took off with it.

Daniel Zamora, manager at Five Star Valet, has been parking cars in downtown Chicago for nearly 10 years. And while he hasn't gone on any joyrides, he admits it's crossed his mind.

"People ask me, 'You're not going to pull a Ferris Bueller, are ya?'" Zamora told CBS News. "You get that temptation. You're holding that wheel, and you feel that gas pedal. You're just like, 'I just want to give it a little bit of a gas.'"

So that's why developers at Chevrolet came up with a first-of-its-kind "valet monitor" and put it inside their brand new 2015 Corvette.

Monte Doran works for Chevy and showed CBS News how the system works.

"All you have to do is go to settings and then valet mode, and then from here, just like a hotel safe, you pick a four-digit code of your preference," Doran said. "There's a camera right here behind the rearview mirror. It's recording audio."

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New for 2015, the Chevrolet Corvette valet mode with performance data recorder is an industry-exclusive system that allows drivers to lock interior storage, disable the infotainment system and record video, audio and vehicle data. Courtesy Chevrolet

Once activated, a camera facing the windshield and microphone record activity inside the vehicle. The feature also records speed, engine revolutions per minute, gear position and G-force.

"We joke that it's kind of a baby monitor for your baby," Doran said. "You will be able to know exactly what happened to your car while it was out of your control."

Chevy initially developed the technology for the track since Corvettes are popular racecars that can hit speeds of up to 175 mph.

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When valet mode is active, the performance data recorder system records video, audio and even vehicle data using the sport mode overlay, which includes details on speed, engine RPM, gear position and G-force. Courtesy Chevrolet

This driving data helps racers improve their technique. But now, it's also a tool to help anxious owners keep an eye on their investment.

"We will probably see more of this, absolutely, especially with luxury brands and high-performance cars," said Mark Takahashi, an auto analyst for Edmunds.com. He believes it's just a matter of time before other carmakers follow the Corvette.

"Any time you can protect your car and your belongings from potential theft or damage, it's a good thing," he said.

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