At Hamburg Airport, cars now park themselves
Germans spend an average of 41 hours a year searching for parking spots, Brits an average of 44 hours and residents of New York an astonishing 107 hours annually. The Volkswagen Group wants to give this time back to its customers and has a clear vision of how to achieve it: In the future we will simply hand over our car at the entrance to the parking garage and the car will take care of the parking itself – without stress and, above all, without wasting time. A pilot project in Hamburg is demonstrating how it might work.
In the parking garage at Hamburg Airport, experts are currently testing autonomous parking with vehicles from the Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche brands. The project is part of the mobility partnership with the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, whose objective is to develop Hamburg as a model city for urban mobility. “Our vision is mobility that is available at the push of a button everywhere and for everyone – and autonomous vehicles will play a decisive role in that. An important step on the way there is autonomous parking such as we are testing it here at Hamburg Airport – as an integrated concept with all-round services and processing via an app”, says Johann Jungwirth, Chief Digital Officer for the Volkswagen Group.
“Our vision is mobility that is available everywhere and for everyone at the push of a button.”
How the new service works
In the test, the driver can book his parking lot at Hamburg Airport conveniently from home using the app and simply hand over his car at the entrance to the parking garage. Everything else then happens automatically: the vehicle searches for a free parking spot and, if necessary, an electric charging station.
Better yet: The focus is being shifted decisively to customers and their needs. In addition to autonomous parking, the Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi brands are to offer other services such as package delivery to the luggage compartment, thus providing a sneak preview of a full-service model for convenient and stress-free parking in the future. Payment, too, is carried out quickly and easily, and with no need to stand in line at the machine, using Volkswagen Financial Services – also via the app, of course.
Safety is the highest priority
In the initial phase, autonomous parking will be implemented in selected parking garages with “exclusive access”, i.e. in separate parking areas that are off-limits to people. Until then, autonomous parking will be extensively tested: thousands of parking processes will be carried out at locations around the world and analyzed. Validation, meanwhile, will be conducted through simulations. The next phase is operation in mixed traffic, i.e. autonomously parking vehicles moving in the same parking garage sections as vehicles driven by people. And the vision for the future is clear: vehicles parking autonomously in public parking lots as well, such as in front of the supermarket.
Vehicles with the autonomous parking function will all be equipped with active environment recognition systems. Such systems can detect objects and respond accordingly, be it through evasive measures, braking, or a complete stop. Vehicles will also be outfitted with a set of sensors, such as ultrasound, radar and cameras. The data processing takes place in a central control unit in the vehicle.
Within the parking garage, the car independently drives to the free parking space assigned to it using map data. Simple visual markers mounted in the parking garage help orient the vehicle along the way.
The mobility of tomorrow remains a shared task
“The integration of various services combined with innovative technology is groundbreaking for the future of mobility”, says Johann Jungwirth. Just as groundbreaking is the collaboration in form of a city partnership between the Volkswagen Group and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. It demonstrates how new services are changing the traditional role of purely tech-oriented carmakers and new partnerships are taking shape and assuming a more central position.