German auto group Daimler and electronics giant Bosch have acquired approval from German authorities to test high-level autonomous parking at a location in Stuttgart.
Driverless parking is one of the clear early benefits of autonomous driving; given often tight spaces and multiple potential hazards (such as pedestrians stepping out from in between other vehicles). There are a multitude of sensors and calculations that must work together faultlessly to ensure safe operation and parking of a vehicle.
The project, which was made public on Tuesday (European time), will see Daimler and Bosch test SAE Level 4 autonomous technology (which does not require the interaction from a human) for a valet parking service at the Mercedes-Benz Museum parking garage in Stuttgart.
This is completely new ground, says Daimler, and as such the approval process itself was first created by the local authorities including the Stuttgart regional administrative authority and the state of Baden-Württemberg’s ministry of transportation.
It’s been quite a journey to get this far; following initial testing in 2015 and a pilot project in 2017, that saw Daimler supplying the vehicle technology and Bosch supplying infrastructure including sensors, the valet service was first made available in 2018 with human supervision.
To use the service, drivers enter the parking garage and then after exiting the vehicle use a smartphone app to tell the car to park itself.
Signals from the garage infrastructure monitor the car’s planned route to its designated parking space for obstacles and hazards, as well as pedestrians, telling the car either to continue on its path or come to a halt.
“This decision by the authorities shows that innovations like automated valet parking are possible in Germany first,” said Dr. Markus Heyn, member of the board of management for Bosch in a statement.
“Driverless driving and parking are important building blocks for tomorrow’s mobility. The automated parking system shows just how far we have already progressed along this development path.”
“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, the head of drive technologies and automated driving at Daimler in a statement.
“As a pioneer in automated driving, our project paves the way for automated valet parking to go into mass production in the future.”
The new approval process and criteria will have the potential to form or guide similar future programs.
Rival automaker Tesla has also been working on autonomous parking as part of its Autopilot software, that it calls “Enhanced Summon”, but it has been met with delays due to the complex nature of garage parking.
However, Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk last week said that it may become available as soon as mid-August, when the price of its FSD option will increase by another $US1,000 ($A1,430 converted).
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.