German engineers have devised the world’s first fully-automated driverless parking function, which safely steers cars into the tightest garage spaces.
The new feature – a joint effort between companies Bosch and Daimler – could eliminate the age-old problem of parking too close to other vehicles.
It may, experts say, even boost the amount of cars a multi-story car park can hold by maximising available space.
Impressively, the technology is infrastructure-based, meaning all commands come from the parking garage, not the vehicle or the pedestrian.
The companies are currently trialling the project in the Mercedes-Benz Museum parking garage, Stuttgart, where the service is accessed via a smartphone app.
If successful, the technology can be retrofitted in other parking garages, with the pilot expected to lead to the expansion of autonomous parking, including in the UK.
This process relies on the interplay between the garage-embedded technology supplied by Bosch and Mercedes-Benz automotive technology within the car.
Bosch sensors in the parking garage monitor the driving corridor and its surroundings and provide the information needed to guide the vehicle.
The technology in the car converts the commands from the infrastructure into driving manoeuvres.
This way, cars can even drive themselves up and down ramps to move between stories in the parking garage. If the infrastructure sensors detect an obstacle, the vehicles stops immediately.
To use it, a person simply drives in to the parking garage, gets out, and sends the car to a parking space by tapping on a smartphone screen.
Once the driver has left the parking garage to go about their business, the car drives itself to an assigned space and parks.
Later, the car returns to the drop-off point in exactly the same way.
When the car owner is ready to leave, they order the vehicle via the app.
Their car will start and drive autonomously to a ‘Pick-up Area’ – which is all detected by the intelligent system of the parking garage.
Dr. Michael Hafner, the head of drive technologies and automated driving at Daimler AG, said: ‘As a pioneer in automated driving, our project paves the way for automated valet parking to go into mass production in the future.’