Driverless car parking starts in Germany

After four years of research and trials, the first truly hands-off automobile parking scheme has been opened, appropriately enough, at the Mercedes Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.

And it seems only a matter of time before it sweeps the world, continuing the trend toward driverless transport, which already features in some Australian trams.

Driverless parking of cars follows the unveiling of a new scooter in China that drives itself to a charging station without a human rider.

In Germany, car drivers wary of the potential for automobile mishaps in parking stations, are welcoming the new technology.

It means that just a click on your smartphone sends your driverless car away to be parked. Another click brings it back when you’re ready to leave.  

The startling innovation rescues drivers from the frequent scrapes and dents that occur in the narrow lanes of multi-tiered parking stations as well as saving time and manpower.

The project has been put together by Bosch, who supplied the infrastructure, and Mercedes-Benz, who provided the vehicles. 

German authorities approved the new procedure as Level 4 – the first true hands-off level of automation to be approved for daily use – although it’s limited to specific situations and locations.

The car’s driverless progress is guided by sensors Bosch installed in the parking station sending data about where to drive and where to park. If an object is detected in the vehicle’s path, it stops. 

There are enough sensors in the garage so that vehicles can even navigate ramps and change levels while operating entirely autonomously.

Drivers arriving at the museum’s parking area simply tap their smart phone and their car goes away to park itself while they explore the museum.

When their visit is over, another tap on the smartphone brings the car back to where it dropped them off.

The launch of driverless parking follows Bosch and Daimler teaming up in 2015 and entering a pilot phase in 2017. 

Last year, visitors at the museum were allowed to use the service alongside trained personnel. Now, the system has been given full-on approval to operate without the need for a safety driver. 

The news about driverless cars finding their own parking spots follows last week’s revelation in New Economy about a joint venture in Beijing between Chinese electronics maker Ninebot and US scooter company Segway, to produce the KickScooter T60.  

Ninebot Chairman Gao Lufeng told Reuters the scooters are remotely controlled from the cloud and use artificial intelligence to make their way to charging stations without human riders.

Gao said the scooters could radically change the ever-expanding scooter sharing industry.