Volkswagen Group is testing autonomous parking at a multi-storey car park near Terminal 2 of Hamburg Airport as part of the mobility partnership with the city that aims to develop it as a model for urban mobility.

First customers should to be able to test the service by 2020.

Johann Jungwirth, VW Group chief digital officer said: "People currently spend around 30% of their driving time in urban areas looking for a parking space. Autonomous parking like we are testing here at Hamburg Airport is an important step on the way to autonomous driving – as an integrated full-service concept via an app."

In the test phase, users book a parking space from home using an app and leave their car at the entrance to the multi-storey car park. The vehicle autonomously looks for a free parking space using simple pictorial markers which vehicle sensors use for orientation. If an EV requires recharging, a robot does that before the car is parked. In addition, while the vehicle owner is away, parcels ordered are delivered to the vehicle boot and the dry cleaning service hangs freshly laundered clothes straight in the vehicle. Upon return, the driver sends a brief message via the app and a short time later the vehicle is ready to drive home at the exit of the car park. Billing is automatic - no queuing at the parking machine [which in the UK's case is usually broken, not accepting cards, etc - ed].

Hamburg Airport is the first airport in Germany to commit itself to autonomous parking and is providing parking lanes in the multi-storey car park directly opposite Terminal 2 for the test phase.

Airport CEO Michael Eggenschwiler said: "Autonomous parking is a great opportunity to offer our passengers significant added value: the journey to the airport is more relaxed because there is no need to search for a parking space and our passengers can check in in just two minutes from the car park."

Autonomously parking cars need much less space for parking as drivers do not have to get in or out. In future, more parking spaces could therefore be made available to passengers at the airport.

We've asked Volkswagen to comment on what happens if there are no available spaces, how an EV is plugged in and if it remains in the space after charging, blocking out other EVs, or autonomously relocates to a non-charge slot.