Bosch and Mercedes are testing fully automated parking with the new S-Class at Stuttgart Airport. The big advantage: less stress for the driver, more space for the parking garage operator. But how convenient is driverless parking really?
My boss sends me to Hamburg for a press conference. So far, so good: brush my teeth, pack my suitcase – and off to the airport. There’s not much traffic on the A8 yet, and it’s not until we reach the entrance to the parking garage that the traffic picks up. Some of the parking garages are already full, and the remaining free spaces are a good walk away from the departure terminal. I don’t really have much room with my station wagon in the mostly multi-story buildings. Without maneuvering, I can hardly make it around the tight curves. So I put the car in reverse gear once again and head back. The plane leaves in 40 minutes – that could be tight.
Reserve a space, request a vehicle and pay: In the AVP parking garage, everything works via app.
Bosch wants to write “mobility history
It’s a good thing that I’m not in a hurry in reality, let alone have to fly to Hamburg. I was also lying about the parking garages being full, because since the beginning of the pandemic, only about 20 percent of the capacity at Stuttgart Airport has been used. I am on the first floor of P6. A pilot parking garage, as several signs at the entrance make clear. According to Bosch, this is where “mobility history” is to be written today.
Together with Mercedes-Benz, the supplier is testing Automated Valet Parking, or AVP for short. An S-Class is to park in one of the oldest and also narrowest parking garages at the airport without a driver and fully automatically. At the end of the test operation, Bosch wants the AVP permit from the legislator.
Automated Valet Parking: Parking with harmony – and without a driver
Parking is indisputably a highly emotional experience. No one really likes doing it, especially not under observation, and especially not when impatient drivers in the rearview mirror are annoyingly honking their horns – pure stress.
That’s why two so-called “drop-off” zones have been set up in P6 around 15 meters behind the barrier. In future, AVP users will park their vehicles in these generously sized areas, load their luggage from the vehicle and start the actual parking process via an app. The car then looks for a free parking space. The driver is already on his way to the terminal. Incidentally, just as the car parks itself, it also returns to the marked area on app command – sounds pretty cool.
So much for the theory. I was given a live demonstration of the fact that the technology also works in real-life operation, using the new S-Class as an example. Mercedes’ flagship fulfills Level 4 autonomous driving requirements, which means it doesn’t need a driver behind the wheel and is the world’s first production vehicle with AVP technology on board. But it doesn’t need much of the latter: The S-Class mainly uses existing series-production technology. Expensive sensors are not needed. Only a special module is needed to communicate with the parking computer. Potential buyers will be able to order the convenience function in the future via the “Intelligent Park Pilot” optional equipment. According to the manufacturer, the costs are in the low four-digit range – for S-Class drivers, the price should be secondary anyway.