Electric vehicles hold the promise of sustainable mobility for the years ahead. But current technology has significant limitations such as reduced driving ranges and long charging times. As such, today’s electric cars are not yet a realistic alternative to conventionally powered vehicles when considering long-distance journeys. This is why scientists are developing novel approaches that combine not only short- and long-haul travel but also public and private modes of transportation.

One such concept is currently being developed by a team of researchers at ETH Zurich and the universities of Braunschweig, Oxford, and Parma, in collaboration with industrial partners Bosch and Volkswagen AG. Their EU-funded project is called V-Charge, which stands for “valet parking and charging,” and it envisions a world in which travelers complete most interurban journeys using a well-developed long-distance transportation network and then switch to comfortable electric vehicles for the last few miles home from the railway station. To support this vision, the researchers are developing V-Charge park & ride car parks, where fully automated electric vehicles will be able to make their way to charging stations or parking spaces. Travelers simply use a smartphone app to send their vehicle to charge itself. Once it is fully charged, they can summon it just as easily via the app to come and pick them up.

Video: “Autonomous cars” on YouTube

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Acknowledgements and Contact:
Prof. Dr. Roland Siegwart
ETH Zurich
CLA E 14.2, Autonomous Systems Lab
Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems
Tannenstrasse 3
8092 Zürich
Phone: +41 44 632 23 58
Fax: +41 86 079 214 49 27