Mercedes-Benz and Bosch driverless parking system approved for commercial use

Mercedes-Benz and Bosch have reached an important milestone on the way to automated driving: Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) has approved their highly automated parking system for use in the P6 parking garage run by APCOA at Stuttgart Airport. This makes it the world’s first highly automated driverless parking function (SAE Level 4)[1] to be officially approved for commercial use. The technological advancement of automated driving plays a key role in the mobility of the future.

Mercedes-Benz and Bosch driverless parking system approved for commercial use

The technology behind driverless parking

Drive in to the parking garage, get out of your vehicle, and send it to a pre-booked parking space just by tapping in a smartphone app – the Automated valet parking service has no need for a driver. Once you have left to spend the time just saved on doing something else, the vehicle drives itself to its assigned space and parks. Later, the vehicle returns to the pick-up point in exactly the same way. This process relies on the interplay between the intelligent infrastructure supplied by Bosch and installed in the parking garage and Mercedes-Benz automotive technology. Bosch sensors in the parking garage monitor the driving corridor and its surroundings and provide the information needed to guide the vehicle. The technology in the vehicle converts the information it receives from the infrastructure into driving manoeuvres. This way, vehicles 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 brakes and safely comes to a complete stop. Only once the route is clear does it continue on its way.

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It was in 2019 that Mercedes-Benz and Bosch obtained the world’s first special permit to operate Automated valet parking using development vehicles without human oversight in everyday operations in the parking garage of the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. The approval that has now been issued goes beyond this, allowing commercial operation with privately owned vehicles in the P6 parking garage at Stuttgart Airport. The basis for the approval is a law that came into force in Germany in July 2021, which permits driverless driving in accordance with SAE Level 4[1] for motor vehicles (BMDV – Germany will be the world leader in autonomous driving). Application of this law to the parking system was implemented in close coordination with the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV) and the KBA. The AFGBV (autonomous driving directive), passed by the German Bundesrat on May 20, 2022, clearly specifies the criteria of the German road traffic act that Level 4 vehicles must satisfy.

The companies plan to gradually roll out the driverless parking service in the APCOA P6 parking garage at Stuttgart Airport. From the day it is released for operation, the first customers with S-Class and EQS models built since July 2022 whose vehicle variants feature the INTELLIGENT PARK PILOT2 service as part of Mercedes me connect, and who have activated this service, will be able to use the function at the P6 parking garage. Once drivers have used their Mercedes me app to book a parking space in advance, they can leave their vehicle in a predetermined drop-off area. After all the passengers have exited the vehicle, the app starts the parking maneuver. The parking system checks whether the route to the booked parking space is clear, and that all the other technical requirements have been satisfied. If this is the case, drivers receive a notification in the app confirming that the intelligent infrastructure has taken control of the vehicle. They can then leave the parking garage. The vehicle starts automatically and finds its own way to its parking space. When the driver wishes to retrieve their car from the parking garage, they can summon it via smartphone command. Their vehicle then makes its own way to a predetermined pick-up area.

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