Recent years have given way to tremendous strides in technology and design in the auto industry. With a variety of brands looking to the future, driverless technology will inevitably hit the streets. A pioneer in innovation, Mercedes-Benz recently received the go-ahead on a project that will catapult autonomous driving into the world.
Mercedes-Benz’s autonomous valet-parking program
The German government — including the Stuttgart regional authority, inspection company TUV Rhineland, and Baden-Wurttemberg state transportation — recently approved an autonomous valet parking program for use in Mercedes-Benz’ museum in Stuttgart, Germany.
According to Car and Driver, this approval only includes Mercedes E-class cars, which currently hold the required hardware for remote control within the parking garage. This is the first entirely-driverless concept approved by governmental transportation authorities.
Mercedes-Benz has focused on autonomous-driving technology with a pilot program that started in 2017. With the hopes of creating tech that will provide a completely work-free experience for drivers, the company needed to test its technology in a controlled, safe environment. The 2017 pilot program began in the Mercedes-Benz Museum, where they could expertly control the software within its parking garage.
According to Engadget, museum visitors have used this parking garage pilot program since 2018, “but only with a safety driver riding along.” In partnership with parent company Daimler and tech giant Bosch, the valet-parking program’s autonomous features perfectly park every E-class.
This not only removes parking hassles for drivers; the Bosch-Daimler team believes future fully-automated garages will even have the potential of holding 20% more cars due to the precision of this technology.
How the technology works
The Bosch-infused technology used in the Mercedes-Benz Museum parking garage is infrastructure-based. This means that commands come from the parking garage itself, not the vehicle. Not only does this allow for a greater margin of safety, but it also creates an environment where they can use limitless calibrated sensors.
The sensors communicate with one another. When the driver arrives and gets out, a smartphone app is used to command the car to park. Your vehicle then simply drives away on its own. According to CNBC, this new program registers as a Level 4 by SAE International, which defines the standards of driving automation.
At Level 4, “a vehicle can drive itself under limited conditions.” The highest level of autonomous driving is Level 5, which means “a vehicle’s automated driving features can drive it under all conditions.” Mercedes-Benz’s parking program is the world’s first Level 4 approved for everyday use.
Automated valet parking in the U.S.?
Bosch’s technology could have the potential to be retrofitted in parking garages all over the world. With the approval of this new parking program, the Bosch-Daimler partnership will likely lead to the expansion of autonomous parking.
What we see from the valet-parking program at the Mercedes museum in Stuttgart will likely lead to similar systems in the U.S. With any hope, America will have driver-free parking garages in the near future.