Turns out Elon Musk isn’t the only one working on cars that can be dismissed to park themselves, with Volkswagen confirming it, too, is developing a semi-autonomous valet system for its cars. Dubbed VW Trained Parking, it builds on the company’s existing Park Assist – which can take control of the steering wheel when reverse-parking or existing a parallel parking space, leaving the driver to handle the pedals – by adding the ability to track and learn commonly-completed maneuvers like parking outside your home, and then replicate them later on.
VW’s system uses a camera integrated into the base of the rear-view mirror, tracking commonly-used paths and learning how they are navigated.
Once it has had a chance to familiarize, it can then repeat the process semi-automatically, throwing in feedback from its own sensors so that unexpected objects don’t get crushed at the same time.
However, Volkswagen’s plans don’t stop there. In the future, the company suggests, a plug-in hybrid or full EV such as the e-Golf could automatically navigate itself on top of an inductive recharging plate, so beginning the charging process without having to resort to scary metal robo-snakes.
Beyond that, the owner could even exit the car altogether, and use their smartphone to monitor as it drove itself to the right spot and pulled up there.
What helps set the VW system apart from other, perhaps more complex autonomous and semi-autonomous driving systems we’ve seen is the relatively low technological barrier to entry. Rather than requiring dozens of new sensors, VW has figured out a way to use those already in place in its current production cars, such as that are relied upon for things like parking proximity warnings and lane-changing alerts.
That said, Volkswagen isn’t saying when its production cars might get a virtual valet upgrade. Described as “still in development,” the system would likely need to run through an extra degree of safety testing versus the current Park Assist, since it marginalizes the driver even more.