Back in 2019, Bosch and Mercedes were granted a special permit for an automated parking system operated without human supervision. Now the partnership has been given the official nod to operate Level 4 automated valet parking on a commercial basis.
The development partners say that the commercial approval from Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority to operate its driverless parking system at the APCOA P6 parking garage at Stuttgart Airport is not just a first for Germany, but a first for the world.
The move follows new regulations introduced in Germany last year that granted permission for SAE Level 4 autonomous vehicles, so long as strict conditions were met.
Mercedes rolled out its Level 3-capable Drive Pilot system to a small range of vehicles earlier this year, and now all S-Class Saloon, Saloon Long and EQS models built from July 2022 onwards will be first to access a new Level 4 parking system called Intelligent Park Pilot. Older vehicles in these ranges are expected to follow later.
The system will be part of the company’s me connect app, which will allow drivers to book a parking spot at the P6 garage and leave their car at a predetermined drop-off point.
When everyone has exited the vehicle, the parking system checks that the booked space is free and all other conditions have been met. Bosch sensors installed throughout the parking garage monitor the area and provide data to help the vehicle drive itself to its pre-booked spot, which can include rolling up or down ramps and instructing the car to brake if obstacles are detected. The app is also used to summon the vehicle, which will navigate to a designated pick-up area.
The first driverless parking system approved for commercial use is due to go live at the APCOA P6 parking garage in Stuttgart Airport shortly, though is unlikely to be the last.
“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,” said Dr. Markus Heyn, chairman of the Mobility Solutions business sector at Bosch.