We've seen a handful of concepts to help alleviate the stress of parking in congested areas, but Volkswagen has taken things a step further. The automaker announced Friday that it will begin trials for an automated parking system at Hamburg Airport in Germany.
The concept is exactly what it sounds like: the driver exits the vehicle, and the car takes care of the rest. Literally. Drivers simply book a parking spot at the airport via an app and leave their car at the parking garage's entrance. After exiting the car, the vehicle will search for a free parking space, or a charging station for an electric vehicle. A similar system was previewed by Mercedes-Benz last summer.
Pictorial markers guide the car in its self-driving mode to locate a space and maneuver into the spot without damaging the car or its surroundings. VW's service will also include package delivery to the vehicle's trunk and dry cleaning hung inside too.
When the driver arrives back at the airport, a quick message to the smartphone app summons the car from its parking space. There's no waiting in line to pay the parking toll, either—that's done within the app.
Today's tests could pave the way for major changes in the future. Self-driving cars don't need nearly as much space as a human does inside a parking garage. Therefore, garages and parking lots could fit a greater amount of vehicles.
But, right now, VW will focus on testing the vehicle technology at the Hamburg Airport. Should it all go well, the automaker hopes the first customers will have the chance to test the system at the beginning of 2020. VW is also working to bring its first self-driving car to public roads in 2021.