Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler and electronics giant Bosch are to test the world’s first automated valet parking service at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, using a smartphone app to let drivers automatically park their vehicles in assigned spots without having to monitor the car’s movements.
Automatic parking features have been available for well over a decade now – Toyota was first to market such an option on its hybrid Prius models back in 2003 – and the technology is now widespread across the ranges of Audi, BMW and Ford, to name but a few.
However, this joint demonstration will mark a milestone for truly autonomous vehicles because it eliminates human oversight from the equation.
“Autonomous driving will be with us faster than many realise. Driverless parking at the museum impressively demonstrates how advanced the technology already is,” said Michael Hafner, head of automated driving and active safety development at Mercedes-Benz Cars.
Gerhard Steiger, president of Bosch’s Chassis Systems Control division, said: “The use of intelligent parking garage infrastructure and its connectivity with vehicles has allowed us to make driverless parking a reality much earlier than expected.
“Not only will this offer more convenient parking solutions for consumers, but it will ensure more efficient use of parking garages, enabling them to accommodate up to 20% more vehicles,” added Steiger.
Users of the new system will be able to use a smartphone app to summon a car to a dedicated pick-up area. When they are ready to return the car, all they have to do is leave the vehicle in the correct drop-off zone, where it will be identified by the garage’s systems and guided to an assigned space on its own – with sensors around the garage constantly monitoring the driving corridor and surroundings.
Besides its car park, Daimler has made a number of Mercedes vehicles available for the pilot, while Bosch has created a new interface between the network infrastructure and the vehicle, and made a number of modifications to the in-car sensor technology and software that converts the commands being received from the car park into driving and parking manoeuvres.
The pilot system will be installed in the private multi-storey car park at the Mercedes museum, and will be available for members of the public to try out for themselves from early 2018.