Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler, its car sharing subsidiary car2go and Bosch have initiated together a pilot project where cars can park by themselves on a parking garage and return autonomously to a pick up location.
The system, which will require cameras and sensors to be installed in car parks, will initially be integrated into car2go’s vehicle fleet.
Car2go is Daimler’s car-sharing service and one that relies heavily on smartphone apps and connectivity as a means of allowing customers to book and pay for car use — making it the perfect test environment.
Existing park assist, intelligent cruise control and autonomous breaking technologies available on a host of premium sedans, the Mercedes-Benz S Class included, are sufficient when working in unison for a car to be able to maneuver itself into a garage, a road-side space or into a parking bay on an outdoor car park without an accident.
However, identifying an empty space within an indoor, multi-storey car park, navigating to it and driving into it isn’t possible unless the parking structure itself is as connected as the cars within it. This is where Bosch comes in.
When the partnership is officially ratified on July 8, the company will be charged with developing the intelligent infrastructure components — parking bay sensors, cameras, etc — needed so that cars can see the layout of a car park as clearly as a human driver.
“Fully automated parking will be ready for mass-production before fully automated driving,” said Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, the responsible Board Member of Bosch. “Low driving speeds and the information from the car park infrastructure enable a fast implementation.”
When the project is completed, a car2go customer will be able to summon a vehicle to the collection point and then send it away again when it’s no longer needed.
However, what makes the Daimler/Bosch system stand out is that the companies are planning to bring it to market “in the near future.”