Driverless parking is now a reality, courtesy of Daimler and Bosch

Automated valet parking looks like the future finally came

Imagine it's 2027, and you just arrived by car to your local shopping center. All you have to do now is exit the car and let it park itself, while you do the necessary shopping. It will come back to you when you summon it. But why imagine? The damn thing is already here!

Daimler and Bosch thought it would be fun to bring the future closer and reveal the first multi-storey car park in which (some) cars can park themselves. The car park at the Mercedes-Benz Museum was fitted with a lot of Bosch sensors, and an Automated Valet Parking system was implemented, making it the first infrastructure-supported solution in the world for real-life automated parking.

Now, cars can proceed without a driver to their assigned parking space in response to a command issued by smartphone, without any need for the driver to supervise the maneuver.

"We are approaching autonomous driving faster than many people suspect. The driverless parking solution at the Mercedes-Benz Museum demonstrates in impressive fashion just how far the technology has come. Parking will be an automated process in the future."

Dr Michael Hafner, Head of Automated Driving and Active Safety at Mercedes-Benz Cars Development

Visitors can reserve a car using a smartphone app. Not any car, but some Mercedes-Benz cars fitted with the remote parking software that will be present as an option on most if not all models in the next few years. The car comes on its own into the pickup area and can exit the parking on its own. The return procedure is equally simple: the customer parks the vehicle in the car park's drop-off area and hands it back by a smartphone app. After being registered by the intelligent system installed at the multi-storey car park, the car is started and guided to an assigned parking space.

Automated valet parking: how is it possible?

Daimler engineers say that driverless parking is made possible by an intelligent multi-storey car park infrastructure from Bosch in conjunction with the vehicle technology from Mercedes-Benz. Sensors installed in the car park monitor the driving corridor and its surroundings and steer the vehicle. The technology on board the car performs safe driving maneuvers in response to the commands from the car park infrastructure and stops the vehicle in good time when necessary.

The sensors for the multi-storey car park infrastructure and the communications technology come from Bosch. Daimler is providing the private museum car park and pilot vehicles, defining the interface between infrastructure and vehicle together with Bosch and adapting the sensor technology and software in the vehicles accordingly.

The premiere on 24 July 2017 is to be followed by an extensive trial and commissioning phase, under supervision from the local authorities. The proper driverless customer service will go into operation at the beginning of 2018 and will be the first real-life automated valet service ever tried.

The good news is that other existing multi-storey car parks can be retrofitted with the infrastructure technology, enabling them to fit up to 20 percent more vehicles into the same space. Give it ten more years, and this technology will be advanced enough to remove the burden of searching for parking spaces once and for all.