Green Cities Fit for Life

Image by C. Spahrbier

EU developing new driverless car parking system

Researchers from Germany, Italy, the UK and Switzerland are developing fully automated electric vehicles that will be able to navigate their way to charging stations or parking spaces. €5.6 million of EU funding has been invested in the system which will be available in the coming years. With more people choosing to drive electric cars the V-CHARGE consortium is preparing for this change by providing varied parking options at public car parks.

“The idea is that we can actually use technology to give people a better mix of public and private transport”, explains Dr Paul Furgale, scientific project manager for V-CHARGE and deputy director of the autonomous systems lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

Image courtesy of v-charge.eu

Image courtesy of v-charge.eu

This pioneering system will allow drivers to leave their car in front of a car park and use a smartphone app to begin the parking process. The vehicle will connect with the car park’s server and drive itself to the designated space. While in the garage, the car can also be programmed to go to a charging station. Upon returning, the driver uses the same app to summon the car – fully charged and ready to go.

Dr Furgale believes the same technology could be used to develop autonomous parking systems for electric cars on city streets. “That will be more of a challenge”, he says. “But once you have the maps in place, the rest of the technology will come together.”

The team presented the latest version of the system at Stuttgart airport in April and is set to be completed in 2015. This was a success and the researchers are now fine-tuning the technology to tackle more precise manoeuvres.

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes says: “We need to think ahead and find smarter ways to move, to save time, money and our environment. Who wouldn’t want to save time parking their car?”