Volkswagen making strides on autonomous parking

Using what is to date unique technology, the Volkswagen Group is currently testing autonomous parking at Hamburg Airport.

Based on a car park map, the Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche vehicles navigate their way to a parking space on their own. Orientation is provided for them by simple pictorial markers installed in the multi-storey car park. Its advantage is that this can be used in essentially any car park.

Johann Jungwirth, chief digital officer of the Volkswagen Group, said: “Autonomous parking can make an important contribution to creating convenient, stress-free mobility for our customers. We, therefore, want to democratise the technology and make it accessible to as many people as possible.”

The autonomous parking function being publicly demonstrated for the first time in Hamburg has already left the research lab and is currently at an advanced stage of development. It is due to be ready to order for some initial Volkswagen Group vehicles from the start of the next decade.

Autonomous parking has to be introduced in stages because safety must be the top priority. In the first stage, it will be possible to use autonomous parking in selected multi-storey car parks in an exclusive traffic flow - in separate areas of the car park not accessible to people.

Before its introduction, the autonomous parking system is being extensively tested. Thousands of parking procedures in different places around the world are being performed and analysed. In parallel with this, safeguarding of the system through simulations is also taking place.

The next stage will be operation in mixed traffic, with vehicles parking and moving autonomously in the same areas of the car park as cars with drivers. And the vision is clear: to have vehicles parking autonomously in all car parks, including public ones, such as outside supermarkets.

There are good reasons for gradually introducing autonomous driving functions: “What we offer our customers works absolutely reliably and safely. This is what today’s technology for vehicles from the Volkswagen Group stands for, and we will continue to keep this promise, also in the era of autonomous driving,” Mr Jungwirth said.

The vehicles with the autonomous parking function will all be equipped with an active surroundings recognition system. This is able to recognise objects and react accordingly, be that by going around them, braking or completely stopping. Vehicles are equipped for this with a sensor set, including, for instance, ultrasound, radar and cameras. The data is processed in a central control unit in the car.

In the multi-storey car park the car uses map data to drive on its own accord to a vacant parking space. Simple pictorial markers put up in the car park provide the vehicles with a means of orientation.

It is hoped that autonomous parking will be available for the first customers in selected multi-storey car parks from the start of the next decade.

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