Self-driving technology comes in various forms. Level 2 semi-autonomous driver-assist systems currently on production vehicles allow humans to let machines largely take over on the highway, while companies like Ford and Google’s Waymo are testing Level 5 fully autonomous robo-taxis in which people will only be passengers in the future.
Self-parking cars are another use case we’re told will be common someday. But Bosch and Mercedes-Benz have announced an automated parking pilot project that will bring the technology to the public at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany starting early next year.
Upon arrival at the museum, guests will be able to leave their vehicles at a drop-off area and send them off to park using a dedicated smartphone app. After the parking garage identifies the vehicle, it’s guided to an assigned space. When museum visitors are ready to leave, they can summon the car to the pick-up area using the app.
The technology used in the pilot includes intelligent parking garage infrastructure and communications technology supplied by Bosch that interacts with Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Sensors in the section of the garage dedicated to the autonomous parking pilot will guide the cars, while components inside the cars receive and convert commands from the sensors into driving maneuvers.
The companies are working together to develop the modifications needed for a vehicle’s sensor and software and the interface between the infrastructure and the vehicle. According to Bosch, vehicles need only meet certain requirements to participate and have an automatic transmission, a communication module, Mercedes-Benz Keyless Go, a parking control unit and electric power steering and stability control.
The pilot project will allow Bosch and Mercedes-Benz to study how drivers use an automated valet system and whether existing parking garages can be retrofitted with the technology. In addition to convenience for drivers, Bosch said that automated parking will allow garage operators to accommodate up to 20 percent more vehicles in the same amount of space.
In an email, a Bosch spokesperson said that the company ultimately views automated valet parking “as a cross-OEM approach, but this is the first pilot. We are talking to other OEMs as well as parking lot managers.”
Bosch and Mercedes-Benz see the museum’s automated parking as an important milestone in the rollout of self-driving technology. “Autonomous driving will be with us faster than many realize,” Dr. Michael Hafner, the head of automated driving and active safety development for Mercedes-Benz, said in a statement. “Driverless parking at the museum impressively demonstrates how advanced the technology already is.”
And while automated valet parking used to be something we expected to see down the road, if successful, the pilot project could make it commonplace soon. “The use of intelligent parking garage infrastructure and its connectivity with vehicles has allowed us to make driverless parking a reality much earlier than expected,” added Gerhard Steiger, the president of Bosch’s Chassis Systems Control division.
Originally published by Forbes.com