Driverless cars may be six months or so from being trialled on the UK’s streets but the European Union has today outlined plans for self-parking and retrieving cars, designed to save you time at the lot.

The V-Charge system is receiving €5.6m (around $7.5m) in funding and has already been developed by researchers from Germany, Italy, the UK and Switzerland and early tests took part at Stuttgart airport earlier this year.

“There are only a few minutes before your flight check-in closes, or before your train departs, but you now have to spend precious time hunting for a free space at the airport or station car park. Imagine leaving your vehicle at the main entrance and letting the car do the rest on its own,” the EU said.

In order to trigger this process, the driver can use the connected smartphone app to connect their car with the car park’s central server and drive itself to an appropriate space. It’s the same deal for returning the car too; simply stand out the front, hit a button and out comes your fully charged electric car ready to go. As GPS isn’t always reliable inside garages, the team has also had to develop a camera-based system for avoiding unexpected obstacles.

That’s the theory for controlled indoors spaces anyway, taking it to the streets could prove a trickier challenge. “That will be more of a challenge”, Dr Paul Furgale said. “But once you have the maps in place, the rest of the technology will come together.”

The study is due to conclude next year, after which we will see “its results available to be progressively commercialised in the coming years,” the EU said.

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