A number of automakers have been working on autonomous parking technology, but Bosch and Daimler’s automated valet parking technology has become the world’s first Level 4 system to be approved by authorities.
Installed at the Mercedes-Benz Museum parking garage in Stuttgart, the automated parking system allows people to enter the parking garage, exit their vehicle and use their smartphone to tell the car to park itself.
The car then drives to an assigned space and parks autonomously. The process sounds simple, but it’s a bit more complex as the parking garage has been outfitted with special sensors developed by Bosch. They “monitor the driving corridor and its surroundings and provide the information needed to guide the vehicle.” The car uses this information to maneuver throughout the parking structure and will immediately stop if an obstacle is detected in its path.
When visitors are ready to leave the museum, they simply return to the parking garage and use a smartphone app to tell the car to pick them up. The vehicle then drives itself to the pick-up location.
The technology has been in development since 2015. A pilot program was launched at the parking garage in 2017 and, after extensive testing, the service was offered to museum visitors in 2018. However, a safety driver traveled with the vehicle as it made its way to a parking spot.
That’s no longer the case as Mercedes says visitors will soon be able to use the automated valet parking service without a safety driver. Since there isn’t an official approval process for automated driving functions that do not require a driver, Bosch and Daimler worked with authorities from Stuttgart, the Baden-Württemberg’s transportation ministry and TÜV Rheinland. They signed off on the technology and approved it for everyday use.
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In a statement, Daimler’s head of automated driving said “This approval from the Baden-Württemberg authorities sets a precedent for obtaining approval in the future for the parking service in parking garages around the world” Dr. Michael Hafner added, the “project paves the way for automated valet parking to go into mass production in the future.”