Volkswagen Group gives a peek into the future of autonomous technology

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 16 Apr 2018

The Volkswagen Group is currently testing autonomous parking at Hamburg Airport and claims that this could be installed in any car park.

Hamburg, Germany is witnessing a lot of technological demonstrations from the Volkswagen Group, which is promising to implement most of them by the beginning of the next decade.

The Volkswagen Group is currently testing autonomous parking at Hamburg Airport and claims that this could be installed in any car park. 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. 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, the chief digital officer of the Volkswagen Group, says: “ We 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 to be introduced in stages
In the first stage, it will be possible to use autonomous parking in selected multi-storey car parks in an exclusive traffic flow, i.e. 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: 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, i.e. vehicles parking and moving autonomously in the same areas of the car park as cars with drivers.This will enable the vehicles to park autonomously in all car parks, including public ones, such as outside supermarkets.

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 by completely stopping. Vehicles are equipped with this with a sensor set, including, for instance, ultrasound, radar and cameras. The data is processed in a central control unit in the car.

As part of the partnership between the Volkswagen Group and the Free and Hanseatic City of 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.

Turning the boot into delivery address
VW Group says the 'Volkswagen We' brand will be significantly expanded, making numerous additional services available to Volkswagen customers.

The 'We Park' app, which is already available and highly popular, is one example. With the 'We Deliver' service, users will in future have parcels that they order online delivered directly to their car. The service has already been tested in Berlin as part of a pilot phase.

The Volkswagen's boot acts here as the delivery address. The vehicle's position is given with the order. The courier uses GPS data to pin down the location of the freely accessible parked car within a radius of 300 metres and is given one-time, secure access to the boot. The aim is that in future it is not just deliveries that will be possible. The intention is that couriers should be able to collect returns and franked parcels too.

Audi AI connects with the future
En route to fully automated driving functions and the vision of autonomous driving, the Audi of the future is going to offer even more.

With 'Audi AI Zones', an Audi will in future take care of a variety of different things autonomously – without the driver being present. If, for example, a travelling salesman leaves his Audi in a marked area (Handover Zone), the car is then able to drive independently and with no driver to various service facilities, such as a car wash, a filling station or indeed a shirt laundry service.

The Audi, with AI ,is both intelligent and connected with its surroundings and also finds a parking space itself and steers itself precisely to it. At the desired time it is back in the Handover Zone ready to continue the journey. The driver can track the car's actions at any time via an app and also add new services.

Porsche: Park & Charge – fully automatic charging while parked
“In public areas, and possibly even at home, charging robots will contribute to increasing the acceptance of electric mobility,” says Uwe Michael, Head of Electrics/Electronics Development at Porsche. That's because the car gets not only automatically parked, but automatically charged as well.

After going to a restaurant, for instance, the customer returns to a fully charged vehicle. This is how Park & Charge works: as soon as the electric car or hybrid model has parked up fully autonomously at a charging point, vehicle and charging robot communicate via WLAN. The vehicle's charging cap is automatically opened, the charging robot's arm moves forward and establishes the connection between electric mains and onboard charger. Afterwards, the vehicle automatically parks in a different parking space, thus freeing up the charging point for the next electric car.

Johann Jungwirth says: “Our clear objective is autonomously driving vehicles that facilitate mobility for everyone at the push of a button and that gives people back time and quality of life as well as greatly improving safety on the roads. Autonomous parking is a milestone on the way there.”