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. The function is set to be available for the first customers in selected multi-storey car parks from the start of the next decade.
Johann Jungwirth, chief digital officer of the Volkswagen Group, says autonomous parking can make an important contribution to creating convenient, stress-free mobility for customers.
"We therefore want to democratise the technology and make it accessible to as many people as possible,” he says.
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, ie, in separate areas of the car park not accessible to people. Before operation in exclusive traffic begins, the autonomous parking system is being extensively tested and thousands of parking procedures in different places around the world are being performed and analysed.
The next stage will be operation in mixed traffic, ie, 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, Jungwirth says.
"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."
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.
One of the trials of autonomous parking is currently being run in Hamburg. The Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche brands are trialling autonomous parking at Hamburg Airport. The brands are pooling their know-how with the aim of quickly getting the new function ready for use in production vehicles across all three brands. The brands bring with them many years of experience from the development of a range of parking functions. They are also bringing together their latest expertise in relation to autonomous driving.
And that is not all. The Volkswagen Group is also demonstrating at Hamburg Airport an integrated concept that systematically puts the focus on customers and their needs. To this end the brands are complementing autonomous parking with a variety of different services, thus giving a look ahead to a full-service offering for the convenient, stress-free parking of the future.