Stuttgart, Germany – No, this is not a trailer for a Knight Rider reboot: Mercedes-Benz, in collaboration with Bosch, has installed driverless parking in the multi-storey car park at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.
With the pilot project launched this week - which Mercedes-Benz says is a world first for an infrastructure-supported system - you drive up to the entrance in a Mercedes shuttle car, get out and use your smartphone to tell it to go and park itself.
And that’s it. The system will tell the car where the nearest open bay is, and the car will drive up the ramp to the appropriate floor and park itself, with no help from you.
Anybody can reserve a shuttle car using the smartphone app; it’ll fetch you when you arrive at the pick-up area. The return procedure is equally simple: you park the shuttle car at the drop-off area and hand it back using the same app.
The secret is an intelligent multi-storey car park infrastructure from Bosch; sensors installed in the car park monitor the driving corridor and its surroundings and steer the car; the technology in car carries out safe driving manoeuvres in response to the commands from the infrastructure and stops the car in good time when necessary.
Soon it'll park your car too
And from the beginning of 2018, visitors to the museum will be able to use the service to park their own cars, provided they are already fitted with Mercedes’ automatic parking function.
“We are approaching autonomous driving faster than many people suspect,” said Mercedes-Benz head of automated driving Dr Michael Hafner. “This project shows how far the technology has come."
Gerhard Steiger, director of chassis systems control at Bosch, added: "Parking will be an automated process in the future. 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.”
The project is being monitored by the Stuttgart regional council and the federal state transport ministry; once they and the TÜV Rheinland technical inspection authority have approved it, the system can be retrofitted to existing multi-storey car parks.
The benefit for the operators of these car parks is that they will no longer need to allow space between parked cars for their doors to be opened - which means they can park up to 20 percent more cars in the same space.