Can Mercedes revolutionise parking?

  • TECH
  • Friday, 12 Jun 2015

SHUT UP AND TAKE OUR MONEY: Daimler and Bosch aim to automate parking via Mercedes cars with a built in valet.

Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler is set to begin working in partnership with Bosch on the development of a new smartphone app-controlled system that would enable a car to drop off its driver and passengers then autonomously locate and manoeuvre into an available parking bay. 

The system, which will require cameras and sensors to be installed in car parks, will initially be integrated into car2go's vehicle fleet. Car2go is Daimler's car-sharing service and one that relies heavily on smartphone apps and connectivity as a means of allowing customers to book and pay for car use – making it the perfect test environment. 

"Our customers are always the centre of attention and all of our actions are oriented towards them. In future the car will even go to them," explains Prof Dr Thomas Weber, Member of the Board Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. 

"In collaboration with our partner Bosch and our mobility service car2go we are developing and testing an infrastructure-based solution for a fully automated valet parking service. For us another step on our way to autonomous driving – or as in this case: towards autonomous parking." 

Existing park assist, intelligent cruise control and autonomous breaking technologies available on a host of premium sedans, the Mercedes-Benz S Class included, are sufficient when working in unison for a car to be able to manoeuvre itself into a garage, a road-side space or into a parking bay on an outdoor car park without an accident. 

However, identifying an empty space within an indoor, multi-storey car park, navigating to it and driving into it isn't possible unless the parking structure itself is as connected as the cars within it. This is where Bosch comes in. 

When the partnership is officially ratified on July 8, the company will be charged with developing the intelligent infrastructure components – parking bay sensors, cameras, etc – needed so that cars can see the layout of a car park as clearly as a human driver.  

"Fully automated parking will be ready for mass-production before fully automated driving," said Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, the responsible Board Member of Bosch. 

"Low driving speeds and the information from the car park infrastructure enable a fast implementation." 

When the project is completed, a car2go customer will be able to summon a vehicle to the collection point and then send it away again when it's no longer needed. 

BMW and Audi have both demonstrated similar technologies that require an infrastructure component in recent months and Swedish carmaker Volvo has also showcased its own version of the system that would work on outdoor, pre-mapped car parks without need for additional sensors. 

However, what makes the Daimler/Bosch system stand out is that the companies are planning to bring it to market "in the near future." – AFP Relaxnews

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