Cars can park by themselves, we know that and we’ve seen it in action quite often. You drive along at low speed and the radars pick a spot and steer the car in for you.
But you have to be inside the car (or very close by, in the case of the BMW i3, for example). What a joint pilot project between Daimler, Bosch and car2go aims to do is make parking completely autonomous in the sense that your exit your car at a certain point inside the parking lot and then the car goes off by itself to search for a vacant spot and, once located, begins the parking maneuvers.
Once you’re done, you use a smartphone app to let your car know it’s time to pick you up from the same spot it dropped you off. It sounds a bit Knight Rider Two Thousand, I know, but it also sounds absolutely plausible.
Automated parking is made possible thanks to an intelligent infrastructure in the car park and a vehicle control unit from Bosch in conjunction with the newest generation of Mercedes-Benz on-board sensors and the car-sharing expertise of car2go. This enables automated manoeuvring in appropriately equipped parking garages in the near future. According to Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, Board Member of Bosch, autonomous parking will become ready for mass production sooner than autonomous driving, due to the fact it’s a maneuver done in a confined space and at low speeds, two aspects which greatly reduce risks.
“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!”
This is how it’s going to work: the user books a vehicle from car2go with the help of his smartphone app. Once he signals he’s ready and waiting in the pickup zone, the car pulls up by itself and the ride can begin. Dropping the car off is basically the same thing, in reverse.
Bosch will be covering the smart car park infrastructure development, including parking space occupancy sensors, cameras and the communication technology. It will also be responsible for the communication unit in the vehicle which controls the car and interacts with its other electronic or mechanical systems, while Daimler will be adjusting the sensor systems and the software in the car2go vehicles and enables future innovation leaps for the car-sharing model of car2go.
No more wondering the parking lot pressing the unlock button on your key fob and looking for the flashing yellow lights, then. It’s fair to say nobody’s going to miss that…