Self-Parking Cars to Make Valets Obsolete by 2015

The European Union is funding a project that would allow your car to park itself at train stations and airports.
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The European Union is funding a project that would allow your car to park itself at train stations and airports.

Photo Credit: V-Charge

Finding a parking space is always a nuisance, especially when rushing to make it to a train or flight on time. The European Union is hoping to rid your life of this hassle with a project they are funding to make self-parking cars a reality. The technology, called V-Charge, would allow users to drop off their cars in the front of a station or airport, where the car will take over control and park itself in a free space. 

With the rising prices of oil and growing environmental concerns, the EU believes that more people will switch to using electric cars for shorter trips, and opt for trains and airplanes for longer ones. If this becomes a reality, then train stations and airports will need to be equipped with charging stations and more parking support. 

The system will allow users to drive their car up to a station, get out and press a button on a smartphone app to indicate that the car can be parked. The car will then drive itself to a free space and automatically connect to a charging station. 

V-Charge could lead to improvements in parking systems, an increase in commuters using a mixture of transportation options, and will even save users a bit of time.

“The idea is that we can actually use technology to give people a better mix of public and private transport,” said Dr. Paul Furgale, scientific project manager for V-Charge. “With a fully automated park and ride, drivers can get out of the car and immediately board the train without looking for parking. This will save each driver several minutes a day.”

The vehicles will have a speed limit of 6 mph when driving autonomously to avoid collisions, and will be able to identify the best route to take to find a free parking space by communicating with a server. However, the cars will also need to be equipped with eight cameras to safely maneuver around without a driver.

“Parking areas can be extremely complex,” said Furgale. “The push in the last part of the project will be to really focus on dealing with dynamic environments and tracking dynamic objects on the scene.”

The team hopes to have the V-Charge prototype ready by September 2015. Learn more about the self-parking car system in the video below.