Mercedes and Bosch autonomous parking have finally been approved for commercial use

The Mercedes self-driving technology created in cooperation with Bosch, allowing for autonomous parking, has been approved for commercial use in Germany.

Mercedes has been on the cutting edge of autonomous driving, and now they are showing their strength in the technology with their Intelligent Park Pilot system unveiled today. The system, available on Mercedes S-Class and EQS models, allows a driver to arrive at a destination, pay for parking, and have the car park itself without interference (level 4 autonomy).

While Tesla Full Self Driving is nearing full adoption into products, and the improved Smart Summon feature is supposedly just around the corner, this news is a shot across the bow of the American tech giant. According to Mercedes, its Intelligent Park Pilot system is a first in the world. Not only is the technology at level 4 autonomy, but it has gone through the gauntlet of the German government’s regulatory process regarding autonomous vehicles.

The Intelligent Park Pilot system will only be available at the Stuttgart Airport upon release, allowing the driver to pay directly from an app. At the same time, the parking structure itself has been outfitted to process the payment and allow the car to enter wirelessly. It is unclear when this system will become available in other areas.

The new system is far different from Tesla’s roughly equivalent Smart Summon in its capabilities and functionality. While the Mercedes vehicle uses its sensors to traverse the parking structure (much like Tesla), the parking structure itself is also equipped with sensors (provided by Bosch in this case) to aid the vehicle and ensure that no people or obstacles are hit as the car traverses the structure.

While this system, as pointed out by Mercedes, provides an unparalleled level of safety for people and vehicles in the parking structure, it may face trouble with integration as every parking structure would be forced to implement sensor technology to allow for Intelligent Park Pilot. In contrast, a system like the one created by Tesla requires no such sensors.

At the reveal of the new product, leaders from both companies were excited about the future the technology makes possible. “Following the market launch of our Drive Pilot Level 3 system, we will soon be offering a Level 4 system for parking with our Intelligent Park Pilot – all of that this year. We really are showing our customers how technology can make life easier and give back precious time,” says Markus Schäfer, member of the board of management of Mercedes-Benz Group.

Bosch board member Dr. Markus Heyn concurred, stating, “Driverless parking is a key aspect of automated mobility. The highly automated parking system we developed together with our partner Mercedes-Benz shows just how far we’ve already progressed along this development path.” The Bosch spokesperson went on to say that driverless parking will likely be the most common use of autonomous driving in the coming years.

Self-driving is still in its infancy, both in terms of availability and capability. However, with such exciting displays of the future, there is no telling what will become available within the next couple of years. Hopefully, the new technology will continue to garner competition between companies to allow the best possible product to become available for consumers.

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“Driverless parking is a key aspect of automated mobility. The highly automated parking system we developed together with our partner Mercedes-Benz shows just how far we’ve already progressed along this development path. It will be with driverless parking that everyday automated driving will start. From the outset, Bosch has taken the approach of making the infrastructure in parking garages intelligent. Accordingly, we have set standards in this area. In the future, our aim is to equip more and more parking garages with the necessary infrastructure technology – we plan to do several hundred of them worldwide in the next few years.”

In 2019, Bosch and Mercedes-Benz obtained the world’s first permit to operate automated valet parking using development vehicles in the parking garage of the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. This latest approval now exceeds this achievement by allowing commercial operation with privately owned vehicles.

The service will now allow customers who drive S-Class and EQS vehicles with the INTELLIGENT PARK PILOT2 feature to use automated parking at Stuttgart Airport.

Mercedes-Benz, together with Bosch, has reached a new milestone in autonomous vehicles after the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) approved their highly automated parking system for use at the P6 parking lot of the Stuttgart airport in Germany.

This makes it the world’s first highly automated driverless parking function that meets SAE Level 4 driving automation to be officially approved for commercial operation using privately owned vehicles. At SAE Level 4, the driver is not required to operate the vehicle (under limited driving conditions) when the autonomous driving features are switched on.

The new approval by the KBA is a step up from the world’s first special permit obtained by Mercedes-Benz and Bosch in 2019. At that point, it allowed for the operation of an automated valet parking system using development vehicles without oversight at the parking lot of the Mercedes-Benz Museum.

The company believes that with both vehicle and infrastructure taking over driving and manoeuvring, drivers can turn their attention to other things instead of spending time navigating tight parking lots in search of a spot.

Using the APCOA Flow digital platform developed by APCOA Parking, users can pre-book and pay for a parking space through the smartphone app. Once at the parking lot, users simply step out of their vehicle and the vehicle will drive itself and park in the assigned parking space. The process is reversed when collecting the vehicle, where it will autonomously drive itself out of the parking space and head towards a preset pick-up point.

Bosch sensors are positioned around the parking lot to monitor the corridors and surroundings while feeding information needed to guide the vehicle. Mercedes-Benz’s autonomous driving technology then receives and converts the information into driving manoeuvres.

The intelligence is such that the vehicle can even drive themselves up and down the ramps and move between different levels of the parking lot. If the vehicle’s sensors detect an obstacle, it applies the brakes and comes to a complete stop and will only continue once the route clears.

The new driverless parking system will gradually be rolled out at the Stuttgart airport for use by owners of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and EQS models built since July 2022. The vehicles would need to be equipped with the Intelligent Park Pilot 2 system. The parking spaces can also be booked in advance via the Mercedes me app. Users will also receive a notification via the app confirming that the self-parking system has taken over control of the vehicle.


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