Bosch and Daimler have obtained approval to run their automated parking system at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, making it the first such scheme to be greenlighted for everyday use.
The automated valet parking service is accessed via a smartphone app and requires no ‘safety driver’. The scheme required the backing of relevant authorities in Baden-Württemberg and this makes it the world’s first fully automated driverless SAE Level 4 parking function to be officially approved for everyday use.
‘This decision by the authorities shows that innovations like automated valet parking are possible in Germany first,’ says Markus Heyn, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch. ‘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.’
Users of the service arrive at the parking garage on-site, get out of the vehicle and send it via a mobile app to a parking space. The car then drives itself to an assigned space and parks. Later, the car returns to the drop-off point in exactly the same way.
This process relies on the interplay between the intelligent parking garage infrastructure supplied by Bosch and Mercedes-Benz automotive 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 manoeuvres. 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.
Bosch and Daimler started developing fully automated driverless parking in 2015 and presented their pilot project for the first time in the summer of 2017.
Since then, the two companies have been conducting trials, with users accompanied by trained drivers in order to gather data about the service and the technology used.
Since there is as yet no official approval process for automated driving functions that do not require a driver, the local authorities – the Stuttgart regional administrative authority and the state of Baden-Württemberg’s transportation ministry – oversaw the project along with experts from the German technical inspection service TÜV Rheinland from the outset. They aimed to assess the operating safety of the automotive and parking-garage technology.
The result is a comprehensive safety concept with appropriate testing and approval criteria that can be applied beyond this pilot project. In the concept, the developers defined how the driverless vehicle detects pedestrians and other cars in its path and reliably comes to a halt when it encounters an obstacle. They also set up secure communications between all system components and took steps to ensure the reliable activation of the parking manoeuvre.
Obtaining final approval from the authorities is a further major milestone for Bosch and Daimler: soon, interested parties will be able to experience the innovative valet parking service live in daily operation in the Mercedes-Benz Museum parking garage without additional supervision from a safety driver.