The European Union is pleased with local work being done on self-driving, and specifically, self-parking cars.
The EU said that development is being done by the V-Charge consortium, with researchers from Germany, Italy, the UK and Switzerland, and has €5.6m backing and support from Europe.
European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes said: “We need to think ahead and find smarter ways to move, to save time, money and our environment. Who wouldn’t want to save time parking their car?
“We need research on new technologies – and how to combine them – to get practical solutions. The V-Charge system goes in the right direction and I look forward to using it.”
In development is a system that can take over charging and parking responsibilities at certain locations or transport hubs – airport car parks for example. The EU said that when it is widely used, in a few years, it will save precious time and encourage more use of public and private transport.
“Imagine leaving your vehicle at the main entrance and letting the car do the rest on its own. Researchers from Germany, Italy, the UK and Switzerland are working on this, and successful tests took place at Stuttgart airport earlier this year.”
Users will arrive at their destination, exit their vehicle and use a smartphone application to park the car, it explained. The car is designed to avoid obstacles, it added.
Dr Paul Furgale, scientific project manager for V-Charge and deputy director of the autonomous systems lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, said: “The idea is that we can actually use technology to give people a better mix of public and private transport.”
The system users cameras to navigate through locations, Furgale said that similar technology could be used to park cars on the street, but added that that is a challenge that still needs to be overcome.
“That will be more of a challenge”, he added. “But once you have the maps in place, the rest of the technology will come together.”
The announcement of the project comes in the same week the UK government announced it will allow driverless car trials on UK roads from next year.