Artificial intelligence or “AI” for short: these two letters symbolize a world of technological possibilities that seemed inconceivable only a few years ago. AI is no longer just a secret code among techies. It has quite literally taken up residence in our living rooms through connected home appliances, as well as in our offices, where intelligent systems in smartphones and e-mail boxes serve as our virtual assistants.
It is the first of its kind: the world’s first official approval for commercial use of automated driverless parking. This means that Mercedes-Benz drivers are no longer subjected to parking stress as the car can now park itself via the Mercedes me app! S-Class and EQS models equipped with INTELLIGENT PARK PILOT will be able to use this highly automated and driverless parking system at the P6 parking garage at Stuttgart Airport, run by APCOA Parking Group. Via the Mercedes me Connect application, the Automated Valet Parking collects and returns vehicles completely independently.
This innovation is the result of a close cooperation between technology partners Mercedes-Benz and Bosch and led to the world’s first highly automated driverless parking function (SAE Level 4, see below) to be officially approved. This is an important evolution as technological advances in automated driving play a key role in the mobility of the future, in which vehicles and infrastructure increasingly will take over driving and maneuvering tasks from drivers.
Everyday automated driving starts in the parking garage
By offering a Level 4 solution for automated parking shortly after the market launch of the DRIVE PILOT Level 3 system, Mercedes-Benz is showing its customers in short order how technology can make life easier and give them back precious time. As for Bosch, it was a logical partner for Mercedes-Benz, having set standards in making the infrastructure in parking garages intelligent. Several hundred of parking garages worldwide will be equipped with the necessary infrastructure technology in the next few years. The APCOA FLOW digital platform in place at the P6 parking garage at Stuttgart Airport can be used to book parking spaces, for contactless access to the parking garage, and for automatic invoicing of the stay in the garage. This means a huge gain in convenience for the users: planning certainty, hardly any wasted time, short distances to walk, and a contactless and cashless parking process.
Driving innovative car safety since 1886
Safety is a core element of the Mercedes-Benz brand. Since the invention of the automobile in 1886, Mercedes-Benz has repeatedly set standards in vehicle safety with new innovative technologies, offering advanced driver assistance systems (SAE Level 2) in its vehicles for years. They can make life considerably easier in many everyday situations, providing support in areas such as speed and distance control, steering and lane changes. In December 2021, Mercedes-Benz was the first automotive manufacturer worldwide to secure internationally valid system approval for conditionally automated driving (SAE Level 3). INTELLIGENT PARK PILOT is a SAE Level 4 system, which means that the vehicle can handle all driving situations by itself – but only in certain areas, such as predefined cities or on highways and expressways … or a parking garage.
The technology behind driverless parking
The procedure is very simple: drive into the parking garage, get out of your vehicle, and send it to a pre-booked parking space just by tapping in a smartphone app. While you use the time thus saved by doing something else, the vehicle drives itself to its assigned space and parks. Later, it returns to the pick-up point in the precise same way. This parking process relies on the interplay between the intelligent infrastructure supplied by Bosch and installed in the parking garage and Mercedes-Benz automotive technology. Bosch sensors in the garage monitor the driving corridor and its surroundings and provide the information needed to guide the vehicle. The technology in the vehicle converts the cues from the Bosch infrastructure sensors into driving maneuvers, allowing cars to drive themselves up and down ramps between parking garage levels. If the sensors detect an obstacle, the vehicle brakes and safely comes to a complete stop. Only once the route is clear does it proceed on its way.
The first customers with S-Class and EQS models built since July 2022 whose vehicle variants feature the INTELLIGENT PARK PILOT, will be able to use the function at the P6 parking garage once they have activated this service in the Mercedes me app.
Once drivers have used their Mercedes me app to book a parking space in advance, they can leave their vehicle in a predetermined drop-off area. After all the passengers have exited the vehicle, the app starts the parking maneuver. The parking system checks whether the route to the booked parking space is clear, and that all the other technical requirements have been satisfied. If this is the case, drivers receive a notification in the app confirming that the intelligent infrastructure has taken control of the vehicle. They can then leave the parking garage. The vehicle starts automatically and finds its own way to its parking space. When the driver wishes to retrieve their car from the parking garage, they can summon it via smartphone command. Their vehicle then makes its own way to a predetermined pick-up area.
In December 2021, Mercedes-Benz became the first automotive company in the world to meet the demanding legal requirements for a SAE Level 3 system
Current automated driving systems in Mercedes-Benz cars
Mercedes-Benz has been equipping its vehicles with various levels of automated driving features for years. “Intelligent Drive” packages bundle a wide range of driver assistance systems for partially automated driving (SAE-Level 2). The “DISTRONIC” Active Distance Assist can automatically maintain the preselected distance to vehicles ahead on all road types. Active Steering Assist provides lane-following support in the speed range up to 210 km/h, while Active Lane Keeping Assist uses a camera to detect lane markings and lane edges in the speed range from 60 to 250 km/h and helps to avoid unintentional lane departure. Active Lane Change Assist provides cooperative support when changing to the adjacent lane. In conjunction with DIGITAL LIGHT, intuitive lighting is also provided at night. Active Emergency Stop Assist brakes the vehicle in its own lane to a standstill if it detects that the driver is permanently disengaged from the road while driving.
In December 2021, Mercedes-Benz became the first automotive company in the world to meet the demanding legal requirements for a SAE Level 3 system enabling conditionally automated driving. Initially offering DRIVE PILOT in Germany, where 13,191 kilometers of motorway are approved for conditionally automated driving, Mercedes-Benz is also working to obtain approval from other authorities all over the world. This automated driving development initiates a radical paradigm shift that permits the vehicle to take over the dynamic driving task under certain conditions, enabling customers to win back precious time when in the car through relaxation or productivity. For instance, they can communicate with work colleagues via in-car office tools, write messages and emails via the head unit, browse the internet, or just sit back, relax, and watch a movie.
SAE Levels of driving automation
Ranging from 0 to 5, the levels of automated driving have been defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).
- Level 0: No Driving Automation
- Level 1: Driver Assistance
- Level 2: Partial Driving Automation
- Level 3: Conditional Driving Automation
- Level 4: High Driving Automation
- Level 5: Full Driving Automation
Imagine a teleconference, with holograms instead of a checkerboard of faces. Or digital communication including smell, hearing and touch, in addition to sight and sound. Pure science fiction? Not really. It is what researchers think possible by 2030, through 6G. Today, we are surrounded by digital technologies that make our lives easier. Tomorrow, the immersive experience of 6G will blur the boundaries between the digital and physical world.