Daimler and Bosch teamed up to bring autonomous driving tech to one of the more annoying parts of driving – finding and parking a vehicle. Their automated valet system is debuting today at the parking garage for the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, making it easy for vehicles to simple drive up, leave their vehicle, and trust the system to negotiate the multi-story parking facility, find and park in a spot.
The valet system will actually be able to work for museum visitors starting in 2018, with visitors able to reserve cars from the facility using a smartphone app. The vehicle then autonomously heads to the pick-up spot, and then once the visitor is through and wants to drop off the car, they simply drive it up to the drop-off zone and check it in using the same smartphone app. The car then drives itself to its assigned parking spot, guided by the facility’s infrastructure and its own onboard sensors.
The infrastructure component is supplied by Bosch, and it works in concert with the car tech provided by Mercedes-Benz on its vehicles. There are sensors both throughout the structure, and on the car, providing info both about where vehicles are located and moving throughout the facility, as well as making it possible for the vehicle to sense and react to objects in its path, including pedestrians.
Today’s debut will be followed by a lengthy trial phase, and local regulators are also involved throughout in monitoring its progress. It’ll need sign-off from safety agencies and local government before it goes into full pilot operation, but Bosch and Daimler believe this will take place at the beginning of next year.
The goal of the project is to find out how people react to having automated parking services available, and how they use the service. Bosch and Daimler note that it’s possible to retrofit existing parking structures with similar tech, which could lead to up to 20 percent more efficiency in use of their available capacity. This is another way autonomous tech could change the face of our cities without requiring extensive infrastructure replacement – and it could happen sooner than self-driving on city streets and roads.