In addition to making travel safer, autonomous vehicles also promise to make things a whole lot more convenient, and that may extend to the tedious task of finding a parking spot. Working towards such a future, Daimler and Bosch, who joined forces on driverless vehicles in April, have demonstrated an autonomous valet service that can be initiated by smartphone.
Daimler itself has already made some impressive progress on autonomous cars. Its Mercedes E-Class vehicles were the first to be approved for autonomous testing in Nevada, while autonomous Mercedes-Benz trucks started hitting the road in trials back in 2015.
By teaming up with Bosch, Daimler hopes to accelerate the development of autonomous vehicles by mixing its own expertise with the Bosch's system and hardware know-how. Eventually, that means developing SAE Level 5 driverless vehicles for urban roads, meaning full automation.
But one of the early fruits of this partnership is an automated parking service launched today at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. This involved fitting out the private multi-story carpark with sensors to steer properly-equipped Mercedes-Benz vehicles to vacant spaces.
Daimler says that in 2018, the valet service will be available for museum visitors, who will be able to reserve a car through the smartphone app. This sees the vehicle autonomously roll into the pick-up area. When the user is finished taking it for a spin, they simply return it to a drop-off point, hop out and hit "park" on the app, leaving the intelligent parking system to guide it to a vacant spot.
After launching today, the system will be put through a trial phase and will need to gain final approval from the authorities before entering operation next year. Daimler says that this type of technology could be retrofitted to existing multi-story carparks, where it would make more efficient use of space and fit up to 20 percent more vehicles.
You can check out the demonstration video below.