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  • Already in its pilot phase, you will soon be able to test Automated Valet Parking.
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    Automated Valet Parking: Park & stride!

    Already in its pilot phase, you will soon be able to test Automated Valet Parking. Carsten Hämmerling, project leader at Daimler, discusses the world premiere.

    Interview: Johannes Schwenkel | Photos: Daimler AG, Claus Morgenstern

A singular approach.

There’s something eerie about them: cars that park themselves and then return to their owners as if they were sentient. “Automated Valet Parking” (AVP) is a pilot project that takes a singular approach to parking. It offers a taste of what is to come.

Mr Hämmerling, how does automated parking work for me as a customer?

It’s simple, really. You just send a command from your smartphone and your car will drive from its parking spot to you, in the pick-up area of the car park. Then you can get in and drive off – and if you want to park the car again, just drive it to the drop-off area, get out, and send another command. The car will drive to the parking space on its own. The time you might have taken looking for a spot can then be better used elsewhere – and you will spare yourself the frustration of finding a spot.

How does the car navigate the car park?

Our project partner Bosch has developed sensors specially for this purpose, and these communicate with a central computer in the car park. The computer, in turn, sends commands to the vehicle’s interface, and the sensors steer the car. They are also able to detect objects and obstructions – such as a child who has wandered away from its parent – and bring the car to a halt.


“Maximum safety.“

How many sensors have you installed in this car park?

Sensors are mounted onto hip-level bollards every six metres to ensure maximum safety. The laser scanner is located about a single hand span above the ground, so it can detect things like a child who has tripped.

How exactly do the sensors steer the car?

We can pinpoint the position of the car within a few centimetres, and are therefore able to park two cars at a distance of just 10 centimetres from one another. We’ve harnessed previously unheard-of efficiency to make use of valuable space in the car park: we can park up to 20% more cars than would be possible with conventional parking.

There are already plenty of sensors in Mercedes cars. Why not just use those?

We could have gone that way, but we decided to go with the external solution. And it will enable even relatively unsophisticated cars to drive autonomously. One of our ideas is to allow users to subscribe and unsubscribe to AVP as a service.


“The project will help us learn a lot.”

When will customers be able to use it?

We’re about to kick off the first pilot project in Stuttgart. Customers will be able to sign up for a test drive at the Mercedes-Benz branch there. The car park is right next door, and they will be able to summon a car to the pick-up area.

What are you hoping to find out from the project?

The project will help us learn a lot. Let’s say you’ve already sent your car off to park and then realise you’ve left your umbrella in the boot. What’s the best way to solve a little problem like this?


So you’ll use this information to improve the system?

Exactly. Especially because both automated cars and conventional cars use the car park– this is to say, 99% of all cars will be parked by their drivers, in the conventional way. Our two automated test vehicles will negotiate the car park among these cars. After we’ve gathered enough experience, we can try out new things, like using fewer sensors while maintaining the same level of safety.

Do you feel like a pioneer in autonomous driving?

We’re all a bit proud, yes. But we’ve earned the right to be.


More information.