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Volkswagen to begin autonomous parking project

Studies say drivers spend more than 40 hours a year looking for parking

Published: April 14, 2018, 2:30 AM
Updated: April 30, 2018, 4:31 PM

Volkswagen autonomous parking

Volkswagen estimates that on average, people spend more than one work week per year looking for parking spaces, and it aims to do something about it by introducing and testing out autonomous parking in its Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen vehicles.

Daimler Automated Valet Parking

The company has inked a deal with a multi-storey car park near Hamburg Airport for an autonomous parking pilot project, whereby customers simply leave their car at a designated drop off point at the car-park entrance and go on their way, while their cars seek out suitable parking spots and park themselves, to be summoned to the designated pick-up point when the driver is ready to leave.

“We want to give people more time and quality of life by reducing the time spent and stress in road traffic. Our vision is mobility that is available to everyone, everywhere and at all times at the press of a button – and autonomous vehicles play a decisive role,” said Johann Jungwirth, Chief Digital Officer of the Volkswagen Group. “People currently spend around 30% of their driving time in urban areas looking for a parking space. Autonomous parking like we are testing here at Hamburg Airport is an important step on the way to autonomous driving – as an integrated full-service concept via an app. We are putting a consistent focus on people and their needs.”

Volvo Autonomous Parking

According to Inrix, a global connected car services and transportation analytics company, Germans spend 41 hours a year looking for parking spaces, Brits spend about 44 and New Yorkers 107. That’s a lot of time spent before you can do whatever you need to park your car in order to do. Autonomous parking takes the stress, time and even some of the potential dings out of parking in large, busy parking lots.

In the pilot project, due to commence in 2020, users can book a parking spot at the test car park through a mobile app. When they arrive at the parking garage, they simply leave their car at the entrance and tell it to go park itself through the app. They can even book an EV parking spot to wirelessly recharge the vehicle while they’re away. Add-on services include parcel and dry-cleaning delivery service to the vehicle.

Audi's semi-autonomous A8

The parking structure includes pictorial markers throughout, so the vehicles can orient themselves through their on-board autonomous system of sensors and cameras. At the end of the day, the app is used to summon the vehicle, which meets the owner at the car-park exit. Billing is done automatically through the app.

Hamburg Airport is the first airport to commit to autonomous parking, providing parking lanes directly opposite its Terminal 2.

Audi A7 Sportback Piloted Driving concept

“We are pleased to support innovative ideas that make travelling even more comfortable,” said Michael Eggenschwiler, CEO of Hamburg Airport. “Autonomous parking is a great opportunity to offer our passengers significant added value: the journey to the airport is more relaxed because there is no need to search for a parking space and our passengers can check-in in just 2 minutes from the car park.”

As an added benefit to the parking structure owners, autonomous vehicle parking spaces require less space, since there is no need for the usual side clearance, so drivers and other occupants can exit the vehicle. That means more parking spaces in the same area, and therefore more revenue.