Say goodbye to driving as we know it?
German regulators have approved a system built by Daimler and Bosch that allows automated driverless parking to work without a human driver present behind the wheel. That makes it the first SAE Level 4 parking system in the world to be government approved.
While the approval is hyper-local to the automated parking system in the Mercedes-Benz Museum parking garage in Stuttgart, Germany, it's a huge step forward for driverless cars. The most important things is that the application and approval process helped regulators come up with guidelines for testing and approval criteria that can now be applied beyond this pilot project.
"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," says Dr. Markus Heyn of Robert Bosch GmbH. Dr. Michael Hafner, head of automated driving at Daimler AG, follows up, saying: "This approval from the Baden-Württemberg authorities sets a precedent for obtaining approval in the future for the parking service in parking garages around the world."
As the world and politicians start to look at autonomous driving seriously, this rings very true. It will be a long road to driverless automation that will start small, and AI-based valet parking is the perfect vehicle to get started with. There's no official approval process for automated driving functions in Germany, as in much of the world, so Daimler and Bosch had the headache of working and coordinating with authorities from Stuttgart and the state of Baden-Württemberg's transportation ministry as well as with experts from the German certification authority TÜV Rheinland. That process is what has helped regulators draw up guidelines that, in theory, can be adopted elsewhere.
Bosch-Daimler has other projects in the works that could also help push things forward. The companies formed a partnership in 2017 with the aim of bringing fully autonomous vehicles to urban roads by 2020 and recently announced plans to pilot a "robotaxi" service in San Jose, California. However, it's driverless valet parking in highly controlled areas will likely be the first real step forward in not having to have someone behind the wheel as a safety net.