Daimler and Bosch have been granted approval to roll out an automated parking system in Stuttgart, Germany.
In an announcement Tuesday, German auto giant Daimler said that the automated valet service would be introduced at the parking garage of the Mercedes-Benz Museum. It will be accessed using a smartphone app and will not need a safety driver.
Daimler said that the system was the "world's first fully automated driverless SAE Level 4 parking function to be officially approved for everyday use."
Five "levels" of driving automation have been defined by SAE International, a global association of over 128,000 engineers and technical experts. At Level 4, a vehicle can drive itself under limited conditions and "will not operate unless all required conditions are met." At Level 5, a vehicle's automated driving features can drive it under all conditions.
Michael Hafner, who is head of drive technologies and automated driving at Daimler, said in a statement Tuesday that gaining approval from authorities in Baden-Wurttemberg set "a precedent for obtaining approval in the future for the parking service in parking garages around the world."
Hafner went on to add that the project paved the way "for automated valet parking to go into mass production in the future."
The infrastructure for the system in Stuttgart has been supplied by Bosch, with Daimler providing the technology in the vehicles, which display turquoise lighting to indicate they are in driverless mode.
When the driver of a vehicle with the appropriate technology reaches the car park, they get out and use their smartphone to send their car to a space. The vehicle then drives to that space and parks up.
Sensors from Bosch assess the "driving corridor" of the garage and its surroundings, sending the vehicle all the information it needs. The vehicle processes this data to plot its maneuvers and route, driving up and down ramps to move through the garage if required. If an obstacle is detected, the vehicle will stop.
Around the world, major businesses are working to develop autonomous driving systems. It was only last week that another car giant, Groupe PSA, announced it was conducting tests in the Spanish city of Vigo to "advance the development of autonomous driving".
The collaboration with the Automotive Technology Centre of Galicia will focus on a number of areas, including the protection of vulnerable users; automated valet parking; autonomous driving in urban areas; and "optimal speed regulation" when vehicles approach traffic lights.