As part of its strategy to offer more services to its customers, Volkswagen announced this weekend that it is currently testing an autonomous parking system for its cars. The tech, being tested at the Hamburg Airport, is set to become a common feature on the group’s vehicles starting 2020.

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VW autonomous parking
Volkswagen justifies this decision on the results of various studies conducted over the years. According to VW, citing an INRIX research, Germans spend 41 hours a year looking for a parking space, the British 44 hours and residents of New York as much as 107 hours a year.

Although various other automakers are engaged in similar research, the Germans say the technology they are using is unique. It is based on a map of the car park that, in conjunction with an active surroundings recognition system, allows autonomous systems in the vehicle to navigate to a vacant parking space.

That essentially means that in the not so distant future, a driver, once arrived at the destination, may leave the vehicle search for a parking space of its own.

In the beginning, Volkswagen will offer the feature in select vehicles and in selected multi-story car parks that are not open to public transit. Slowly, it will be expanded to include mixed traffic.

“People currently spend around 30 percent of their driving time in urban areas looking for a parking space,” said Johann Jungwirth, Chief Digital Officer at Volkswagen.

“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.”

As the technology is still undergoing testing, the technical details of VW’s autonomous parking are not known.

Back in March, Ford announced a somewhat similar endeavor in the UK. Although not exactly autonomous parking, Ford’s system will use various technologies to provide a real-time map of empty parking spaces directly to the drivers, so that they don’t waste time looking for one.

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