Stuttgart airport set to welcome highly automated and driverless parking with the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class
- In the future, a command from a smartphone will tell cars where to park in Stuttgart Airport’s P6 parking garage.
- The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class is equipped with the technology to enable driverless, highly automated parking (SAE Level 4).
- For AVP, Bosch is using camera-based infrastructure for the first time to detect lanes and obstacles.
- The parking garage operator Apcoa is testing barrier and payment functions as the basis for automated valet parking, enabled by its APCOA FLOW digital mobility platform.
 SAE-Level 4: The car can autonomously handle all traffic situations under certain conditions (e.g. on selected roads, not in all types of weather). No driver is required.
Automated parking to drive down the airport stress: Bosch, Mercedes-Benz, and the parking garage operator Apcoa want to introduce driverless and highly automated parking at Stuttgart airport in the future. To this end, the automated valet parking (AVP) system co-developed by Bosch and Mercedes-Benz is to be made ready for commercial operation.
The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class is already geared up to accommodate it as the world’s first production vehicle to feature the technology required for future infrastructure-based AVP. As an option, customers can buy the appropriate pre-installation for what the company calls the INTELLIGENT PARK PILOT, which makes the S-Class capable of receiving a smartphone command to drive itself to a reserved parking space. “With the new S-Class, it’s not just driving that’s a luxury, but parking as well,” says Dr. Michael Hafner, head of automated driving at Mercedes-Benz AG. The P6 parking garage at Stuttgart airport will serve as the pilot for the planned commercial automated parking service. Here, the companies will test how the vehicle technology onboard the S-Class interacts with the intelligent Bosch infrastructure and APCOA FLOW, the digital platform provided by the parking garage operator Apcoa. This platform makes the whole parking process ticketless and cashless. “Apcoa, Bosch, Mercedes-Benz, and Stuttgart airport want to work together to make parking fully automatic,” says Christoph Hartung, member of the executive management of Connected Mobility Solutions at Bosch. In the airport parking garage, preparations are currently underway to begin piloting the planned automated valet parking service. The aim of this trial with new S-Class vehicles at Stuttgart airport is to ensure that interactions between the vehicle, infrastructure technology, and parking garage operator run smoothly and are optimized for the customer.
World’s first Level 4 park function in a production vehicle
In July 2019, Bosch and Mercedes-Benz received the world’s first special permit to operate AVP for selectedE-Class vehicles without a safety driver in real-life, mixed parking garage traffic at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. Equipped with the appropriate pre-installation for the INTELLIGENT PARK PILOT, the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class is now the first production vehicle to feature AVP technology, which enables it to park without a driver. However, this is conditional on the future availability of parking garages with the appropriate infrastructure, as well as on national legislators giving AVP the green light. This makes the Mercedes-Benz S-Class the world’s first vehicle to feature a pre-installation for an SAE Level 4 automated driving function, the second-highest level of automation. “With automated valet parking, Mercedes-Benz is demonstrating that driverless parking will soon be possible,” Hafner says.
To facilitate this new one-touch parking function, a spacious drop-off and pick-up area will be set up directly behind the entrance to the P6 parking garage, giving AVP users a convenient place to leave their vehicles. As they comfortably make their way to the terminal and check in, their S-Class will park itself in the basement, guided by information from the infrastructure technology. In other words, users no longer need to worry about maneuvering or having to squeeze out of their cars when the space they have finally found proves to be too narrow. “Automated valet parking really enhances our passengers’ comfort and convenience and saves them time, especially when they’re in a hurry and just want to drop their car off quickly at the airport”, says Walter Schoefer, management spokesman for Flughafen Stuttgart GmbH. For the test phase that is about to start, P6 will initially have two spaces available for self-parking vehicles. More spaces will be added when driverless parking becomes standard as planned in the future and as demand increases.