The Volkswagen Auto Group – including Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche – is all set to begin testing an autonomous driving technology that also includes A.I.-driven services such as vehicle parking, charging, and parcel delivery. That's according to a new announcement from the group, which says it will be testing through to release of the functionality sometime in 2020. Trials are already underway in Hamburg, with the bulk of testing taking place at the Hamburg Airport. However, while self-driving auto tests are not necessarily a surprising development anymore, the companies involved here are taking a much more focused approach. To begin with, the tests will take place in stages and each phase will center around a different part of the overall services the group intends to offer. If the testing is successful, it could represent a hugely important step in integrating autonomous vehicles, as well as popularizing their use through over-the-top services.
That all starts with testing of automation of the parking process itself, utilizing "pictorial markers" and a car park map. The parking algorithm is and has been tested in various parts of the world with safety as the number one priority. That includes thousands of parking procedures which are being analyzed to help the A.I. adapt to the often crowded and hectic environment of a parking structure. The ultimate goal is to create an algorithm that would work under any parking circumstances anywhere. As part of the endeavor, the group has already begun advertising and incorporating the service into websites and apps such as the Volkswagen's We Park app. As progress is achieved with autonomous parking, further services are set to be added as well and each of the three companies has their own services associated with that. Volkswagen, specifically, is working to make it possible for parcels to be delivered to a parked car. It hopes to make the feature available almost anywhere at some point in the future. Through the We Deliver service, deliveries could be set up and give couriers one-time access to a car's trunk in order to deliver a package to the car's owner.
Audi takes a slightly different approach that centers around a marked "handover Zone" and its vehicles becoming an extension of the driver themselves. Drivers would leave their car in the virtual valet spot and the hope is that the vehicle would be able to drive itself around to accomplish various tasks. For example, it might be programmed to drive itself to a shirt laundering business to get the driver's dry cleaning started before heading to a car wash and then refueling before picking up the dry cleaning. As needed, the vehicle would either park to wait or head back to the handover zone on a preset schedule and pick up the driver. New services could be added throughout via app-based vehicle tracking. Last but not least, Porsche is making use of the electronic vehicle recently featured in a certain advertisement to test the possibilities of automated parking and charging. By utilizing a robotic charging bot and the vehicle's A.I. in combination with a wireless connection, the test vehicle would be able to pull into a parking space and charge before meeting back up with its owner. Robotics would also ensure that the vehicle can be unplugged to prevent overcharging.