December 5, 2022
The autonomous driving system will operate at Stuttgart Airport’s P6 garage, where it will park – and return – cars without any input from a human driver.
The service is the world’s first highly automated driverless Level 4 parking function – as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers – to be officially approved for commercial use, and it is set to be launched soon, with variants of the S-Class and EQS equipped with Mercedes’ Intelligent Park Pilot feature the first to benefit.
Mercedes and Bosch have showcased the tech previously, notably earlier this year at the Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown Hotel in California. It works via the Mercedes Me app. Drivers simply book a space in advance and then leave their vehicle in the P6 garage’s drop-off zone. The system then ascertains if the route to the space is clear.
Assuming there are no obstacles en route, the driver is notified that the car will be parked and that they can leave the garage. A similar process occurs on the driver’s return to the car park. They request the return of their Mercedes via their smartphone, and it maneuvers its way back to the designated pick-up area.
The car maneuvers safely by communicating with a network of sensors that are fitted within the garage’s infrastructure to ensure it does not collide with pedestrians or other vehicles. Few garages are fitted with the necessary hardware at present, but the system is said to be quickly scalable.
Automated valet parking offers an array of potential benefits. For example, it allows operators to fit more vehicles into a garage, as there no longer has to be room to open the doors once in a space because the occupants have already left the car. Drivers, meanwhile, spend less time looking for spaces or seeking out their vehicles once parked.
The system has been in use since 2019 at the Mercedes-Benz Museum parking garage in Stuttgart, but the launch at the P6 facility, run by APCOA, marks its commercial debut. Drivers can use the APCOA FLOW digital mobility platform for contactless entry and exit, and cashless payment.
Dr. Markus Heyn, Bosch’s Mobility Solutions chairman, promised more facilities that can accommodate automated parking are on the way. “It will be with driverless parking that everyday automated driving will start,” he claimed.
“From the outset, Bosch has taken the approach of making the infrastructure in parking garages intelligent. In the future, our aim is to equip more and more parking garages with the necessary infrastructure technology – we plan to do several hundred of them worldwide in the next few years.”
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