Mercedes, Bosch open the world’s first self-driving parking service

Another major milestone on the road to fully self-driving cars was reached this week when Mercedes-Benz and Bosch received regulatory approval for the commercial use of a fully automated valet service in a public parking garage.

The approval came from the Federal Motor Transport Authority and currently only applies to the P6 multi-storey car park of the airport parking company Apcoa at Stuttgart Airport, the main airport of Mercedes’ home in Stuttgart.

Mercedes and Bosch first demonstrated the automated parking service in 2017 in the parking garage of the Mercedes Museum in Stuttgart, and the two have been testing the system at Stuttgart Airport since 2020.

You simply drive to a designated drop-off point at the entrance to the car park, get out and then use the Mercedes Me app to send the car to a pre-reserved parking space. The system is based on sensors developed by Bosch, which are distributed around the parking lot and communicate with the self-driving system installed in Mercedes vehicles. Later, the car returns to the drop-off point using exactly the same route.

The sensors can be retrofitted in existing car parks, including car parks like the one at Stuttgart Airport. And since there are no doors to open during operation, cars can be parked much closer together. According to Mercedes and Bosch, parking garages can save 20% more space as a result.

The system is rated Level 4 on the SAE scale for self-driving capability as no human is required but movement is restricted within a geofence zone. It is currently only available for Mercedes S-Class and EQS models built after July 2022 and with activated intelligent parking pilot, which is available via Mercedes Me Connect.

Mercedes and Bosch have also tested the automated parking service in the USA. The system was demonstrated in a Los Angeles parking garage earlier this year.

Mercedes is also a leader in self-driving technology for private use on the road. The automaker offers a Level 3 self-driving system called Drive Pilot, which is currently limited to use in Germany and is being prepared for US launch. The system is currently available in the S-Class and can handle certain motorways, but only up to a speed of 60 km/h and with another vehicle in front.

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