Urban areas are the most problematic from a mobility standpoint, and this is precisely why they require efficient solutions in a short timeframe. But optimising traffic flows is not the only aspect to be worked on: parking is also under the microscope. The Volkswagen Group is testing its autonomous parking technology at Hamburg airport.
The most complex challenge for future mobility undoubtedly regards autonomous driving. To get to the point where vehicles are able to get by in the traffic, intermediate steps are required allowing in-depth testing of the technology to be performed. A concrete starting point for the Volkswagen Group is autonomous parking, which is currently undergoing tests at Hamburg Airport. In Germany, according to INRIX 2017 analysis, each driver spends 41 hours a year looking for a parking space. In the UK this figure is slightly higher, at 44 hours, while in New York City it is a mind-boggling 107 hours – figures which speak for themselves and really make you think. The Volkswagen Group’s goal is clear: to give drivers back this time, by letting technology take care of the problem. In the not-too-distant future, tasks which are currently a daily source of stress, such as looking for a parking spot or complicated manoeuvres, will just be a bad memory. Vehicles will, indeed, be able to take care of all of this by themselves, and ideally will even be recharged while parked. All that will be required is an app.
How It Works
The user books a parking space via the app. When they arrive at the car park, they shut off the vehicle, get out and then order it to park, also via the app. They can then get on with other matters – in the case of the Hamburg airport test, this means going into the terminal without further worries. At this point the car starts itself up again and, using a detailed digital map of the location and visual markers placed inside it, drives up to the booked space and performs the necessary manoeuvres. If required, the vehicle can also be recharged: by communicating with the WLAN, the recharging robot knows exactly where to position itself and carries out these operations while the vehicle is parked. On their return, the user again uses the app to “call” their car and waits for it at the exit to the car park.
The Volkswagen Group’s vision does not stop here, however – it is much more extensive. It not only encompasses finding the parking space, manoeuvring into it and recharging – where required – but also incorporates a range of services to further simplify people’s day-to-day lives. These include the possibility to receive online purchases in the vehicle’s luggage compartment thanks to the Volkswagen We Deliver service and dry cleaning in the passenger compartment, to give just a couple of examples. “The real challenge is integrating different services via innovative technology”, Johann Jungwirth, Volkswagen Group CDO, says.
Why in Hamburg?
The German city is particularly attuned to future mobility issues, and to innovation more generally; it is this attitude which makes it the ideal partner for the Volkswagen Group. The partnership, started in 2016, has included numerous initiatives of this type to date. As well as the autonomous parking pilot project at the airport, by the end of the year testing should begin for self-driving cars in the city centre, as well as experimentation with V2X (Vehicle-to-everything), which allows vehicles to communicate directly with traffic lights in order to optimise traffic flows. Also by the end of 2018, MOIA will be launching its Shuttle-on-Demand service in Hamburg using a fleet of electric vehicles, while the VW brand will be introducing the We Deliver service. For what concerns the commercial vehicles field, from 2019 MAN will be experimenting with the use of self-driving trucks at the port and on some sections of the motorway around the city.
Source: Volkswagen AG