November 30, 2022 – Mercedes-Benz and Bosch have reached an important milestone on the way to automated driving: Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) has approved their highly automated parking system for use in the P6 parking garage run by APCOA at Stuttgart Airport.
This makes it the world’s first highly automated driverless parking function (SAE Level 4)¹ to be officially approved for commercial use. The technological advancement of automated driving plays a key role in the mobility of the future. With the vehicle and infrastructure taking over driving and manoeuvring, drivers will be able to turn their attention to other things, instead of time spent looking for a parking space and manoeuvring in tight parking garages.
The world’s first approval for customer use of our highly automated and driverless parking function, developed together with our technology partner Bosch, shows that innovation leadership and ‘Made in Germany’ go hand in hand. Following the market launch of our DRIVE PILOT Level 3 system, we will soon be offering a Level 4 system for parking with our INTELLIGENT PARK PILOT – all of that this year. We really are showing our customers how technology can make life easier and give back precious time.
Driverless parking is a key aspect of automated mobility. The highly automated parking system we developed together with our partner Mercedes-Benz shows just how far we’ve already progressed along this development path. It will be with driverless parking that everyday automated driving will start. From the outset, Bosch has taken the approach of making the infrastructure in parking garages intelligent. Accordingly, we have set standards in this area. In the future, our aim is to equip more and more parking garages with the necessary infrastructure technology – we plan to do several hundred of them worldwide in the next few years.
The technology behind driverless parking
Drive in to the parking garage, get out of your vehicle, and send it to a pre-booked parking space just by tapping in a smartphone app – the Automated valet parking service has no need for a driver. Once you have left to spend the time just saved on doing something else, the vehicle drives itself to its assigned space and parks. Later, the vehicle returns to the pick-up point in exactly the same way. This process relies on the interplay between the intelligent infrastructure supplied by Bosch and installed in the parking garage and Mercedes-Benz automotive technology. 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 vehicle converts the information it receives from the infrastructure into driving manoeuvres. This way, vehicles can even drive themselves up and down ramps to move between stories in the parking garage. If the infrastructure sensors detect an obstacle, the vehicle brakes and safely comes to a complete stop. Only once the route is clear does it continue on its way.
It was in 2019 that Mercedes-Benz and Bosch obtained the world’s first special permit to operate Automated valet parking using development vehicles without human oversight in everyday operations in the parking garage of the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. The approval that has now been issued goes beyond this, allowing commercial operation with privately owned vehicles in the P6 parking garage at Stuttgart Airport. The basis for the approval is a law that came into force in Germany in July 2021, which permits driverless driving in accordance with SAE Level 4¹ for motor vehicles (BMDV – Germany will be the world leader in autonomous driving
¹SAE J3016 defines six levels of automation for road vehicle driving operations (Level 0 to Level 5). Level 4 states: The vehicle can autonomously handle all traffic situations under certain conditions (e.g. in a parking garage). No driver is required.