Volkswagen to Roll Out Autonomous Parking Features by 2020

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【Summary】Recently, Volkswagen demonstrated the feature at Hamburg Airport – the fifth busiest airport in Germany, which services over 17.6 million passengers per year.

Michael Cheng    Apr 26, 2018 4:49 PM PT
Volkswagen to Roll Out Autonomous Parking Features by 2020

Volkswagen is hitting major milestones in developing its autonomous driving platform. The car manufacturing giant unveiled a new driverless parking pilot program for multi-story parking lots. This is particularly useful in Germany, as locals spend roughly 41 hours per year looking for vacant parking spaces (according to Volkswagen).

If all goes according to plan, the company intends to release the feature on a commercial level by 2020. Autonomous parking is an essential feature in self-driving platforms. Numerous automakers are currently testing such features, including Tata Motors' Jaguar Land Rover.

Stages of Development

Volkswagen plans to roll out the feature in various stages to consumers. This process ensures maximum safety and allows individuals (including pedestrians) to get accustomed to autonomous parking in action. The first stage provides the feature in limited, multi-story parking lots. Parking areas that cater to driverless parking will be separate from traditional spaces requiring manual navigation.

The next stage removes the exclusion, basically enabling autonomous parking in almost any parking lot. This includes parking in mixed traffic and public locations shared by pedestrians and vehicles.

"Autonomous parking can make an important contribution to creating convenient, stress-free mobility for our customers. We therefore want to democratize the technology and make it accessible to as many people as possible," said Johann Jungwirth, Chief Digital Officer of Volkswagen Group.

For now, researchers are working on making the feature as safe as possible. Development currently entails improvement to the system's active recognition components and capabilities. In parking lots, cars (with this feature) rely on real-time data from maps to navigate around the location. Assisting this step in the process includes physical markings around the space, which provides orientation for the cars.

Trials and Applications

The automaker is pooling data from several pilot programs involving autonomous parking. Recently, it demonstrated the feature at Hamburg Airport – the fifth busiest airport in Germany, which services over 17.6 million passengers per year.

In application, an individual reserves a parking space at the airport prior to arriving at the location, using a smartphone app. Upon arriving at the parking lot, the owner simply leaves the car to park itself. According Volkswagen, individuals may also engage in a handful of everyday services using the app, such as package deliveries and dry cleaning.

Porsche and Audi vehicles also participated in the pilot program, under a collaboration with the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.

"People currently spend around 30 percent 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," highlighted Jungwirth.

In 2017, Daimler and Bosch launched a similar trial, in a Mercedes-Benz museum at Stuttgart. The program allowed participants to reserve a vehicle using a mobile app and use its (limited) self-driving features within the parking lot. During the pilot, the vehicle autonomously navigated the location to the pick-up area and parked itself at the end of the journey.

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