The parking garage at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, has become home to the world’s first driverless SAE Level 4 parking application, officially approved for everyday use.
Developed by Bosch and Daimler, the automated parking service is accessed via a smartphone app and requires no safety driver. Mercedes-Benz owners, who possess a car equipped with the relevant self-driving technologies, simply pull into the allocated valet parking bay and engage the service using the app. The vehicle then drives itself to an empty spot in the parking garage. When returning, the owners consult the app and collect their vehicle from the allocated collection area.
“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,” said Dr. Michael Hafner, head of drive technologies and automated driving at Daimler. “As a pioneer in automated driving, our project paves the way for automated valet parking to go into mass production in the future.”
Dr. Markus Heyn, board of management member at Robert Bosch, added, “This decision by the authorities shows that innovations like automated valet parking are possible. Autonomous driving and parking are important building blocks for tomorrow’s mobility. The driverless parking system shows just how far we have already progressed along this development path.”
The autonomous valet application relies on the interplay between the intelligent parking garage infrastructure supplied by Bosch and Mercedes-Benz’s self-driving technology. Bosch sensors in the parking garage monitor the driving corridor and its surroundings and provide the information needed to guide the vehicle. The technology in the car converts the commands from the infrastructure into driving maneuvers. This way, cars can even drive themselves up and down ramps to move between stories in the parking garage. If the infrastructure sensors detect an obstacle, the vehicle stops immediately. As an added safety feature, turquoise lighting indicates that the vehicle is in automated driving mode and informs passers-by and other road users that the vehicle is driving itself.