Charging robots and AI valets: VW Group reveals its autonomous parking plans

Published: 16 April 2018

► Tech should be here on VW Group cars by 2020
► Being test in Hamburg airport for now
► Porsche aims to solve biggest EV charging issue

The Volkswagen Group just revealed a new development around autonomous parking – but it’s also let slip on some very interesting plans Porsche has for EV charging. In a release late last week, the VW Group revealed it’s working with Hamburg Airport to test new autonomous parking software. However, it also included information about a charging robot that’ll fix one of electric car owners' biggest issues... 

Let’s talk about the autonomous parking first…

The aforementioned initiative sees Porsche, Audi and Volkswagen cars autonomously navigate to spaces in Hamburg Airport’s multi-story car park – effectively removing the need for a parking valet. The average Brit looks for a parking space for around 44 hours a year – so it’s worth the R&D…

According to the the VW Group, the cars use pictorial markers, so the technology could be transferred to any car park. Interestingly, that also suggests the system must mainly rely on onboard cameras – though radar and parking sensors are probably used to supplement them.

Right now, the system is in areas of car park without pedestrians or other traffic; in future the VW Group is aiming to roll the system out to entire car parks. It’s not far away either, VW says you’ll be able to spec cars with the technology by the beginning of the next decade.

Autonomous parking can make an important contribution to creating convenient, stress-free mobility for our customers,’ said Johann Jungwirth, chief digital officer of the Volkswagen Group. ‘We therefore want to democratise the technology and make it accessible to as many people as possible.'

And what about this charging robot?

In the same release, Porsche’s head of electrics/electronics development Uwe Michael, talks about robots that will charge your car for you – freeing up the charging infrastructure, and solving one of the biggest issues with EVs and PHEVs.

The idea is simple: with charging bays at a premium, Michael envisages a system where cars will autonomously drive themselves to charging bays to be charged by robots which automatically connect to EVs or hybris. Once a car is juiced up, these robots will remove their charging arms allowing the car to park somewhere else.

After that, another EV or PHEV will arrive, the robot will automatically connect its charging arm, and the process will continue. The result? Cars will be charged automatically, and people can't hog power points.

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast