Lonely Planet Writer

Autonomous parking at Hamburg Airport aims to take the stress out of finding a space

We all know the stress of trying to find a parking space at the airport, so a new plan to get cars to park themselves at a German airport sounds like a brilliant scenario. The Volkswagen Group is currently testing autonomous parking at Hamburg Airport, and it says it could revolutionise driving. The function is set to be available for the first test customers in selected multi-storey car parks from the start of the next decade.

Autonomous parking is being tested at Hamburg Airport. Image: Volkswagen Group

Drivers will book a space at the airport using an app, and upon arrival, will leave their vehicles outside the multi-storey car park. Vehicle sensors will then direct the car to a space without having a driver inside, and orientation will be provided for them by simple pictorial markers installed in the car park. The tests are being carried out using Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche vehicles.

When they touch down, all they have to do is send a message and the vehicle will be waiting for them. While the car owners are away, parcels can be delivered to their vehicle and even dry cleaning can be left for them to find when they return. With the “We Deliver” service, the Volkswagen’s boot acts as the delivery address. “Autonomous parking can make an important contribution to creating convenient, stress-free mobility for our customers,” says Johann Jungwirth, chief digital officer of the Volkswagen Group.

Cars may soon be parking themselves at Hamburg Airport. Image: Westend61

Safety is the top priority with autonomous parking, so in the first stage, testing will take place in selected multi-storey car parks in an exclusive traffic flow, i.e. in separate areas of the car park that are not accessible to people. The vehicles will be equipped with an active surroundings recognition system. This is able to recognise objects and react accordingly, by going around them, braking or completely stopping. Vehicles are equipped for this with a sensor set, including ultrasound, radar and cameras. The data is processed in a central control unit in the car.

Autonomous parking by app is being tested at Hamburg Airport. Image: Volkswagen Grou

The next stage will be operating in mixed traffic, i.e. vehicles parking and moving autonomously in the same areas of the car park as cars with drivers. And the vision is clear: to have vehicles parking autonomously in all car parks, including public ones, such as outside supermarkets. “Autonomous parking like we are testing here at Hamburg Airport is an important step on the way to autonomous driving, as an integrated full-service concept via an app,” says Jungwirth.

Autonomous parking by app is being tested at Hamburg Airport. Image: Volkswagen Grou

Further information on the new developments and plans around autonomous parking can be found here.