Bosch and Daimler will trial a world-first autonomous valet parking system in Germany, with no safety driver on board.
The system will be used in the Mercedes-Benz Museum parking lot in Stuttgart, and meets the criteria for proper Level 4 autonomous driving.
Museum visitors are able to book a car using an app, and have it autonomously arrive to collect them. When the time comes to return it the user hops out at the entrance to the parking lot, presses a button on their app, and the car drives off to park itself.
Central to the system's operation is the ability of the Level 4 autonomous vehicles to communicate with parking garage infrastructure. Bosch sensors around the parking lot communicate which spaces are free, where the pillars and walls are, and when cars need to make their move.
"Cars can even drive themselves up and down ramps to move between stories in the parking garage. If the infrastructure sensors detect an obstacle, the vehicle stops immediately," Bosch says in its press release.
Cars operating autonomously are designated with turquoise exterior lighting, so passers-by and garage staff know chips and silicon are doing the driving, not a regular driver.
The technology has been in development since 2015, and both Bosch and Mercedes-Benz have been trialling it with safety drivers on board since 2017.
Now, the project has received approval to operate without a safety driver on board.
"This decision by the authorities shows that innovations like automated valet parking are possible in Germany first,” says Dr. Markus Heyn, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH.
“Driverless driving and parking are important building blocks for tomorrow’s mobility. The automated parkings system shows just how far we have already progressed along this development path."