Volkswagen presented its first all-electric vehicle, a prototype of the new self-parking, self-driving e-Golf with the V-Charge technology. V-Charge stands for Valet Charge and it's supposed to save drivers a lot of precious time as well as take care of stressful parking, since it's said to be easily adaptable for existing carparks and could serve as the valet parking system of tomorrow.

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The V-Charge system is a research project between Volkswagen, Bosch and other partners (European universities and institutions), whose goal is to make public parking easier and more efficient as well as more convenient and stress-free for the car drivers of the future. If you drive an EV with V-Charge, you as a driver only need to stop your car in front of the carpark or a garage and use a smartphone app to set the vehicle on the hunt for a free parking space. EVs then park themselves over a recharging pad that automatically commences charging. Once charging is complete, the autonomous EV vacates the charge-point, makes way for another EV and autonomously finds a free parking space. When the driver returns from runnig erronds, he contacts the car and calls it, with batteries fully charged, to come pick him up – again via smartphone app.

To test the V-Charge technology, Volkswagen is using a fully-autonomous Volkswagen e-Golf with four wide angle cameras, two 3D cameras, twelve ultrasound sensors and car-to-infrastructure (or Car2X communication system) technology. There are other autonomous driving systems, but unlike the V-Charge project they primarily focus on autonomous driving on the open road. V-Charge, on the other hand, is using its technology to act more as a valet parking assistant. That is also the reason why it doesn't use GPS, but instead, an on-board digital mapping software and image recognition to accurately locate itself, other vehicles, pedestrians and any obstacles inside a parking garage.

The V-Charge system could otherwise come with another helpful advantage. If the cars park autonomously, when the driver and passengers have already exited the vehicle, the parking lots could be narrower. Carparks, therefore, could house more vehicles and make the lack of parking space become a thing of the past.

July 17, 2015 Driving photo: Volkswagen

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