This is a big step forward for the autonomous driving industry.
Mercedes-Benz has had its SAE level four autonomous valet parking feature approved for commercial use.
Designed in conjunction with Bosch, the function is as straightforward as it sounds, giving the car the ability to park independently. The relevant authorities granted approval in Baden-Wurttemberg after a testing session in the brand's museum parking.
Bosch's responsibility was to develop the tech needed for the autonomous test units to navigate the garage area. The program allows the car to drop its driver and passengers off at a designated zone before being set out to hunt for its own parking space. Bosch's tech runs off a selection of cameras integrated into the parking garage that can identify and communicate an open space that will suitably accommodate the car's proportions.
This setup also translates the necessary information the car will need to navigate around any obstacles in its path, including pedestrians.
When summoned by the owner via its mobile app, it will use the same system to get back to where its autonomous parking journey began. With this now being approved for commercial use, Bosch and Mercedes-Benz claim that owners can celebrate more time, improved vehicle safety, and more efficient parking spaces.
Considering that cars will drive to and from their destinations without any occupants, space won't need to be provided for opening doors. This means that lower volume and more efficient parking spaces can be constructed. The duo suggests that car capacity can be increased by 20% with this infrastructure.
Chairman of the Mobility Solutions business sector, Markus Heyn, applauds both Bosch and Mercedes-Benz for their technology. "Driverless driving and parking are important building blocks for tomorrow's mobility. The automated parking system shows just how far we have already progressed along this development path," he said.
Bosch and Mercedes-Benz have been developing fully autonomous parking since 2015. Its first pilot solution was displayed in 2017 at the same location with and without a driver present at the wheel. Its first public appearance occurred in 2018, when museum guests could use the revolutionary parking service while accompanied by trained safety personnel.
Its first implementation will be at Stuttgart Airport's APCOA P6 parking garage. It will be available exclusively for Mercedes-Benz EQS Sedan and S-Class owners who opt for the Intelligent Park Pilot2 service via the Mercedes Me app only if a parking space has been booked beforehand.
Now that it has achieved commercial approval, Mercedes-Benz will let guests experience the automated parking without supervision.
Despite both Bosch and Mercedes-Benz being given the go-ahead, there is no indication of when we will see a market release for its autonomous parking feature. Finding a parking spot on a busy day can be a real pain, so let's hope that this gets implemented soon and that it is not locked into a nasty subscription service.
Regardless, this development shows that the German duo is taking autonomy to new levels, which may have Tesla looking over with a level of concern. At least this time around, the pair aren't working to fool its consumers into thinking that their products are more eco-friendly via dubious advertising campaigns.