Volkswagen and Bosch are working on automated park-and-charge systems for electric cars

V-Charge

European researchers and car companies are working on an automated car-parking and charging service for autonomous, electric vehicles.

The V-Charge consortium – not to be confused with the also-interesting VCharge grid energy storage outfit — includes Bosch and Volkswagen, along with researchers from Switzerland, Italy, Germany and the U.K. In this case, “V-Charge” stands for “valet parking and charging.”

The idea behind the consortium’s work is for drivers to leave their electric car at the car park entrance, after which their smartphone app will talk to the car park’s server and send the vehicle off to a free space. The app would also be used to retrieve the car, which would have been charged in the meantime for good measure.

The system has already been tested at Stuttgart Airport in Germany, and it’s now being fine-tuned with an eye on completion next year. This is largely a matter of making the parking maneuvers more accurate – a particularly important point if the cars are to automatically plug into the charging station at their parking spot.

According to a Thursday statement from the European Commission (this is an EU-funded project), the necessary obstacle-finding cameras and ultrasonic sensors and other components should be cheap enough to build into normal electric cars. They’re not the only ones chasing that dream, of course. Other players like Volvo, BMW and Audi — and Google of course — also aim to make parking, and driving in general, a real no-brainer.

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