Finding parking has to be one of the least enjoyable aspects of driving a car (besides the pain of filling up, that is), but all that could change as the result of a pilot project being undertaken jointly by Daimler, Bosch and car2go. The project’s goal: a car that looks for a space in a parking garage – and returns all by itself, using a smartphone app.
It takes a lot more than simply swiping a greasy finger across your smartphone screen, though. Underlying the system is smart infrastructure in the car park, a vehicle control unit from Bosch, the newest generation of Mercedes-Benz on-board sensors and the car-sharing expertise of car2go.
“Our customers are always the centre of attention and all of our actions are oriented towards them. In future the car will even go to them”, explains Prof Dr Thomas Weber, Member of the Board Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. “In collaboration with our partner Bosch and our mobility service car2go we are developing and testing an infrastructure-based solution for a fully automated valet parking service.” The company sees it as another step on the road to autonomous driving, on which it has been expending enormous resources.
In fact, fully automated parking will be ready for mass-production before fully automated driving, says Dr Dirk Hoheisel, the responsible Board Member of Bosch. “Low driving speeds and the information from the car park infrastructure enable fast implementation.”
The way it’s envisaged: using a smartphone, the owner books a vehicle via car2go. When the user is ready in the pick-up-zone of the car park, the car drives up independently. On return, the customer parksit in the drop-zone of the car park and returns the car via their smartphone. The intelligent system of the car park registers the vehicle, starts it and is directed to an assigned parking space.
Bosch is developing the necessary infrastructure for the car park, including parking space occupancy sensors, cameras and the communication technology. Furthermore, Bosch will provide the communication unit in the vehicle, which also controls the parking process and defines together with Daimler the interface with existing vehicle components. Daimler will adjust the sensor systems and the software in the car2go vehicles. In addition to that, Daimler will enable “future innovation leaps” for car2go’s car-sharing model, which currently uses Smart minicars.