Daimler, Bosch Testing Autonomous Parking at the Mercedes-Benz Museum

Cars are parking themselves without drivers in a garage in Stuttgart.

Daimler

Autonomous driving is often pitched as a way to make life easier and more convenient, but not everyone views driving as a chore. Parking, on the other hand, isn't most people's idea of fun. Consequently, autonomous parking might be easier for the public to accept. Daimler and Bosch are aiming to find out through a pilot program at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. The two longtime partners have teamed up on an autonomous parking system that lets cars drive themselves into a parking garage without any human intervention.

The service is currently running as a demonstration only, although Daimler hopes to offer it to customers beginning in 2018. Right now, it works similar to a car-sharing service, with users reserving a car via smartphone app. The car drives itself out of the garage to a pickup point, and a human driver takes it from there. The driver then drops the car off at a designated spot, and it drives itself back into the parking garage.

This system relies not only on cars with some degree of autonomous driving capability, but also on sensors embedded in the parking garage itself. Provided by Bosch, the sensors monitor other vehicles in the area, and warn the car of potential obstacles.

Daimler hopes to offer autonomous parking to customers in 2018, pending regulatory approval. It's unclear whether the feature will be available on actual customer cars, or solely on cars made available through a car-sharing service. Either way, customers may be limited to certain parking garages that are equipped with the necessary sensors.

In the future, autonomous parking could have major efficiency benefits, Daimler believes. The company claims autonomous parking could allow up to 20 percent more vehicles to fit into the same space. Since doors won't need to be opened to let passengers out, cars will be able to park closer together. Having cars drive directly to a designated space rather than cruise around looking for one could also save fuel.