In the future, your VW cars will be able to park and charge on its own, if it’s electric of course. This latest project, called ‘V-Charge’ by Volkswagen Group was jointly developed with Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Bosch and other national and international partners. Its focus is on automating the search for a parking space and on the charging of electric vehicles.
The best part about it is that the vehicle not only automatically looks for an empty parking space, but that it finds an empty space with charging infrastructure and inductively charges its battery. Once the charging process is finished, it automatically frees-up the charging bay for another electric vehicle and looks for a conventional parking space. ‘V-Charge’ stands for Valet Charge and is pointing the way to the future of automated parking.
In the USA especially, convenient valet parking is a big hit: you pull up in your car right outside your destination, valet service personnel park it for you and have it brought around again as and when you need it. There is no more time-wasting search for a parking place. The V-Charge project picks up on this idea. Its development goal is fully automated searching for a parking space (‘valet parking’) within defined zones, such as in multi-storey car parks.
There are many scenarios that illustrate the advantages of the V-Charge concept. Take one practical everyday example: a commuter notices that he is possibly going to be late and is thus running the risk of missing an important meeting at his company. With V-Charge he is able to pull up right in front of the main entrance, get out and establish the link to his vehicle via the associated smartphone application. Operating fully automatically, the vehicle has a digital map relayed to it and within the parking area or multi-storey car park autonomously navigates to a parking space. If it is an electric vehicle, the system additionally prioritises a parking bay with an automatic charging facility. Pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles are identified by the cameras and ultrasound sensors integrated within the vehicle. Therefore, the vehicle is allowed to travel in so-called ‘mixed traffic’. The selected parking area neither has to be an enclosed domain nor is any complex technical equipment required.
As the electric vehicle nears its destination, the system recognises via local sensors whether the allocated parking space is taken. If it is empty, the fully automatic parking manoeuvre begins and positions the vehicle exactly above the inductive charging spot. When the charging process is complete, the vehicle automatically moves to another parking space, leaving the charging station free for another electric car. When the driver returns to the multi-storey car park, he calls the vehicle back to the starting point via the V-Charge app. The vehicle moves to the defined pick-up location, with the driver not needing to set foot in the parking area or multi-storey car park. How cool is that!
Watch the video below to see how it works!