Apcoa, Bosch, and Mercedes-Benz are working to provide the world’s first commercial automated valet parking service. Picture: SUPPLIED
Apcoa, Bosch, and Mercedes-Benz are working to provide the world’s first commercial automated valet  parking service. Picture: SUPPLIED

In the future, a command from a smartphone will tell cars where to park in Stuttgart airport’s parking garage.

While roads full of self-driving cars are still some time away, a stepping stone to that future is a project to relieve parking stress at airports, and Mercedes-Benz is teaming up with Bosch and parking garage operator Apcoa to introduce automated valet parking (AVP) at the airport.

The new S-Class will be the world’s first production vehicle to feature a pre-installation for a Level 4 automated driving, the second-highest level of automation. As an option, S-Class buyers can buy the pre-installation for the Intelligent Park Pilot, which makes the car capable of receiving a smartphone command to drive itself to a reserved parking space.

“With the new S-Class, it’s not just driving that’s a luxury, but parking as well,” says Dr Michael Hafner, head of automated driving at Mercedes-Benz AG.

The P6 parking garage at Stuttgart airport will serve as the pilot for the planned commercial automated parking service. Here, the companies will test how the vehicle technology onboard the S-Class interacts with the intelligent Bosch infrastructure and Apcoa Flow, a digital platform that makes the parking process ticketless and cashless.

The trial with new S-Class vehicles at Stuttgart airport is to ensure that interactions between the vehicle, infrastructure technology, and parking garage operator run smoothly.

To facilitate this new one-touch parking function, a spacious drop-off and pick-up area will be set up directly behind the entrance to the P6 parking garage, giving AVP users a convenient place to leave their vehicles.

As they make their way to the terminal and check in, their S-Class will park itself in the basement, guided by information from the infrastructure technology. Bosch video cameras identify vacant parking spaces, monitor the driving aisle and its surroundings, and detect obstacles or people in the aisle.

“Automated valet parking really enhances our passengers’ comfort and convenience and saves them time, especially when they’re in a hurry and just want to drop their car off quickly at the airport”, says Walter Schoefer, spokesperson for Stuttgart airport.

It is possible for cars to drive themselves around the parking garage — even on narrow ramps, enabling them to move between different stories. If the cameras detect an unexpected obstacle, the vehicle safely performs an emergency stop.

In the future, Bosch aims to equip more and more parking garages with AVP infrastructure technology. By increasing the availability of driverless and fully automated parking services, the same amount of space could accommodate up to 20% more vehicles. In addition, driverless parking is suitable for narrow, remote, and therefore unattractive parking areas that people would otherwise avoid.

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