The self-parking car is officially here.
Mercedes-Benz and Bosch have had their Level 4 autonomous parking system approved for commercial use, allowing some owners to simply walk away from their vehicles and let the car find a parking spot in a specific Stuttgart Airport carpark.
Currently, the approval only extends to the P6 carpark at Stuttgart Airport. The self-parking system is compatible with certain S-Class and EQS models, meaning only a small pool of people will initially be able to enjoy the technology.
It’s the first time a system of its kind has been approved for commercial use, rather than on a trial basis.
Using the Mercedes Me app, drivers are able to book a space at the carpark online. When they arrive at the carpark, they leave their car in a designated drop-off zone and walk away.
When a network of sensors within the garage confirms the coast is clear, the car heads to a predetermined spot and slots itself in. The process is reliant on the car’s autonomous driving technology, communicating with those external sensors to build a picture of what’s happening around it in the parking garage.
“This way, vehicles can even drive themselves up and down ramps to move between stories (sic) in the parking garage,” Mercedes-Benz says.
“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.”
At the other end of the journey, owners summon their vehicle using the Mercedes Me app and wait in the same drop-off zone.
Beyond the parking garage, Mercedes-Benz is pushing to roll out Level 3 autonomous driving.
The German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KPA) has officially granted approval for Mercedes-Benz’s LiDAR-based ‘Drive Pilot‘, albeit at speeds below 60km/h.
Level 3 autonomous driving means a driver can take their hands off the steering wheel in certain situations like highways and traffic jams, and even take their eyes off the road.
The system is required to alert the driver within a certain period of time if they need to take over driving.
The automaker is initially offering its Drive Pilot system on 13,191 kilometres of German motorways.
However, Drive Pilot is initially legally permitted at speeds of up to 60km/h and can be activated and controlled by buttons on the steering wheel.