Volkswagen V-Charge: the electric car parks and recharges on its own

With the extensive V-Charge program, a vehicle could in the future park itself on a site with an induction charging station, which it will leave once its battery has been regenerated.

The V-Charge system (“V” for “Valet”) is at the heart of an ambitious project: that of enabling electric cars to find a free parking space, park there and charge their engine before giving way to an analog car. And all this independently.

Thanks to the system devised by Volkswagen and its partners (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, the Technical University of Brunswick, Robert Bosch GmbH, the University of Parma and the University of Oxford), the driver can simply position it at the level of a parking lot, activate the system  via a mobile application and go away, as if it were leaving its keys with a valet in front of a hotel or restaurant.

The European Union supports this already well advanced project. Each partner works on a piece of the technological puzzle. The Technical University of Brunswick, for example, is developing communication systems (between cars and then cars with infrastructure, to allow vehicles to identify obstacles and so that the infrastructure can notify drivers of vacant spaces). The detection technologies fitted to the latest generations of cars have, however, made a big difference.

The car parks with an accuracy of one centimeter

So much so that a version of the V-Charge is already functional: the car is able to park with an accuracy of 1 cm, but also to navigate to and from a parking space, while avoiding hitting pedestrians and other vehicles.

Parking remains one of the most stressful and time-consuming stages of driving. The public is therefore already asking for these technologies. And while manufacturers are touching the dream of a fully autonomous car, the first major technological advances capable of becoming standard features will belong to this field. Parking spaces, whether in multi-storey shopping center car parks or private garages, are not located on public roads. As a result, the legislation does not prohibit the autonomy of vehicles.

The trend is already being observed, especially on the Tesla Model S to be controlled remotely (excluding street parking). The new BMW 7 series, unveiled in June, has an intelligent key to control parking from a distance. The driver can leave the vehicle before he parks or vacates his parking space. The time it will take for technologies like the V-Charge to deploy, once they are developed, will depend on the speed and cost of adapting the car parks.