Remember the promise of actual self-parking cars – where one day in the future we’ll be able to just step out of our cars at the entrance and our cars will do the rest? Well, that day is now inching ever so slightly closer to reality thanks to Mercedes-Benz and its partners, who will be trialling a self-parking system at the Stuttgart airport.
Mercedes-Benz, along with technology provider Bosch and parking garage operator Apcoa, are working together to provide the world’s first commercial automated valet parking (AVP) system at the Stuttgart airport’s P6 parking garage – and all you need is the recently-unveiled Mercedes-Benz S-Class, fitted with the Intelligent Park Pilot option.
With that option checked, drivers can just drop off the car at a specific space located right behind the entry to the P6 parking lot. After confirming to park through your mobile phone, the car will then guide itself automatically into the basement and park itself in the pre-determined parking lot, guided by the information from the infrastructure.
Ticketing and payment will also be automated through Apcoa’s systems, thus giving the driver’s a truly hassle-free experience where you can focus your attention at catching your flight.
For the initial test phase, only two spaces are available for the self-parking Mercedes-Benz S-Classes. The companies say that they are planning to add more spaces in the future when demand increases – and driverless parking becomes standard.
A vehicle collection service is also in the works, and will be enabled once parking garages are equipped with the appropriate infrastructure and given the green light by local authorities.
The AVP system relies heavily on infrastructure, in addition to the kitted out S-Class – and that’s where Bosch comes in. Using various camera feeds in the parking garage, the system is able to identify vacant parking spaces, monitor the driving aisle and its surroundings, and detect obstacles or people in the aisle.
All of the information is then sent to a dedicated control centre in the parking garage that calculates the route the vehicles need to take to reach an available space, which is then sent to the car to be converted into actual driving instructions, guiding the cars to drive through the narrow ramps within a parking lot.
This isn’t the first time that Mercedes-Benz and Bosch have toyed with self-parking AVP systems. The companies introduced the system back in 2017 with a few specifically kitted-out Mercedes-Benz E-Class vehicles to serve as a development platform, and the system was subsequently debuted in Shanghai in 2018.
The Stuttgart airport is the latest step for the system to bring the system to a fully-commercialised level in the near future, with Bosch upgrading their infrastructure to use camera-based equipment instead of the lidar sensors used previously – which could help reduce overall infrastructure costs, and bring true level four autonomy to the masses.