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Mercedes begins driverless parking garage pilot

Automated Valet Parking uses Smartphones to send cars to assigned spots

Published: July 27, 2017, 10:30 PM
Updated: August 2, 2017, 6:34 AM

Daimler Automated Valet Parking schematic

Daimler Automated Valet Parking

The days of driving to work, proceeding to your assigned parking space and then walking to the elevator and eventually your office may be behind you when driverless parking becomes a reality at more companies.

Following up on its advancements in autonomous driving, Daimler has teamed with automotive solutions company Bosch to develop the world’s first parking facility where cars park themselves without driver interference

Called Automated Valet Parking, the technology uses a Smartphone app through which drivers can send commands for their cars to park themselves in assigned parking spots, and then reverses the process when it’s time to collect the vehicle.

“Parking will be an automated process in the future,” said Gerhard Steiger, Director of the Chassis Systems Control unit at Bosch. “By applying an intelligent multi-storey car park infrastructure and networking it with vehicles, we have managed to realise driverless parking substantially earlier than planned.”

Daimler Automated Valet Parking car interior

The system is an important step toward fully autonomous driving, and will work in reverse to what the expectation will be in the driverless world of the future.

Starting in 2018 (pending approval from the licencing authority), visitors to the museum will be able to summon a car via a Smartphone app, and have that car come to them in the pick-up area from its assigned parking space; and then they return the car to the drop-off area and order it to return itself to its assigned parking spot.

The technology uses car-to-infrastructure connectivity to safely steer the vehicle through the structure to its assigned destination, receiving instructions from sensors embedded in the facility, and using its own onboard sensors to safely guide itself along the facility’s driving corridors. Blue LED exterior lighting front, rear and side, conveys to passersby that the car is being driven autonomously. Bosch developed the car-park’s and car’s sensors and the communications technology to make it all work together.

Daimler Automated Valet Parking blue light designation

The partners say the technology can be retrofitted to existing facilities, using this pilot project to fine tune the processes before expanding to other facilities.

In addition to the convenience to vehicle occupants, there is also a benefit to facility operators, since driverless parking will allow cars to self-park in smaller spaces (for example, there is really no need for clearance to ensure doors open sufficiently in a parking spot, so a driver can exit the vehicle), as well as increasing parking capacity by a reported 20%.

That would mean reclaiming space for 80 more cars in a 400-car parking lot — a welcome development at shopping malls for operators and consumers during the holiday shopping season.