Bosch and Mercedes-Benz have achieved a significant breakthrough, in 2022, in the realm of automated driving. The duo has received the green light from Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) for their state-of-the-art automated parking system. This approval allows its deployment in the P6 parking facility managed by APCOA at Stuttgart Airport.
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Bosch and Mercedes-Benz together for automation
Notably, this system is the first of its kind, achieving SAE Level 4 automation, to gain official sanction for commercial operations. This innovation in automated driving is a pivotal step towards shaping the future of mobility. The system promises to free drivers from the hassles of searching for parking spots and navigating through congested parking areas.
“Driverless parking is a key aspect of automated mobility. The highly autonomous parking system we developed together with our partner Mercedes-Benz shows just how far we’ve already progressed along this development path. It will be with driverless parking that everyday automated driving will start,” said Dr. Markus Heyn, member of the Bosch board of management and chairman of the Mobility Solutions business sector.
A Deep Dive into the Driverless Parking Mechanism
Imagine driving into a parking lot, stepping out of your car, and then, with a simple tap on your smartphone, directing your car to park itself. That’s precisely what the Automated Valet Parking service offers. Once the driver exits the parking area, the car autonomously finds its designated parking spot.
This seamless operation is a result of the synergy between Bosch’s intelligent infrastructure within the parking facility and Mercedes-Benz’s vehicular technology. Bosch’s sensors strategically placed in the parking area oversee the driving path and its immediate environment. These sensors relay crucial data that the car’s onboard system translates into precise driving actions.
This advanced setup even allows cars to autonomously navigate ramps within the parking structure. Safety is paramount; if any obstacle is detected, the car halts immediately and only resumes its journey when the path is clear.
“The world’s first approval for customer use of our highly automated and driverless parking function, developed together with our technology partner Bosch, shows that innovation leadership and ‘Made in Germany’ go hand in hand,” added Markus Schäfer, member of the board of management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, chief technology officer, responsible for development and procurement.
Back in 2019, Bosch and Mercedes-Benz were pioneers in obtaining a unique permit. This allowed them to test the Automated Valet Parking with developmental vehicles in the Mercedes-Benz Museum’s parking area in Stuttgart, without human intervention. The recent approval takes this a step further, permitting the system’s commercial use with personal vehicles in the P6 parking zone at Stuttgart Airport.
This endorsement is grounded in a German law, introduced in July 2021, which sanctions autonomous driving up to SAE Level 4. The application of this legislation to the parking solution was meticulously coordinated with the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV) and the KBA.
Furthermore, the AFGBV (autonomous driving directive) ratified by the German parliament’s upper house on May 20, 2022, delineates the standards that Level 4 vehicles must meet.
Walter Schoefer, management spokesperson for Flughafen Stuttgart GmbH, which runs Stuttgart Airport: “The project shows how innovative our region is. Automated Valet Parking really enhances our flight passengers’ comfort and convenience and saves them time, especially when they’re in a hurry and just want to drop their car off quickly at the airport.”
The Road Ahead for the Automated Parking System
Bosch and Mercedes-Benz have a phased plan to introduce this driverless parking solution in the APCOA P6 parking zone at Stuttgart Airport. Upon its launch, owners of S-Class and EQS models manufactured post-July 2022, equipped with the INTELLIGENT PARK PILOT2 feature under Mercedes me connect, and having activated this service, are eligible to utilize this feature at the P6 parking facility.
Users can reserve a parking spot using the Mercedes me app. Once they arrive and ensure all passengers have disembarked, the app initiates the parking process. The system verifies the route’s clarity and other technical prerequisites. Upon successful validation, drivers are notified that the intelligent infrastructure is now in control.
The car then autonomously proceeds to its designated spot. When it’s time to leave, drivers can beckon their car through a smartphone command, and the vehicle autonomously arrives at a predetermined pick-up zone.