Without a doubt, we have come a very long way getting Artificial Intelligence-based self-driving systems.
As of date, Daimler & Bosch have received approval from the German regulators to operate their automated driverless parking facility without involving a human safety driver sitting behind the wheel.
This is the world's first fully automated driverless SAE Level 4 parking function to be totally approved for everyday use. The thumbs-up comes 4 years after the companies started working together on the technology end.
Bosch board member, Dr. Markus Heyn said this decision by authorities only shows that innovations like automated valet parking is now possible in Germany.
He believes that driverless parking and driving are the cornerstones for tomorrow's automated mobility. Automated parking shows just how far we have already come and the continued development path that lies ahead.
Level 4 was designated by SAE which means the vehicle can handle all aspects of driving in certain conditions without human interference.
Until now, there have been several Level 4 tests and trials in the works but they all involved people behind the wheel of the vehicle as a backup.
Bosch is considered one of the largest automotive tech and hardware suppliers in the world and they handle the infrastructure aspect of the automated parking function.
It works in collaboration with Daimler's vehicle technology on its Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Users can easily access the independent valet service using their smartphone app.
Bosch and Daimler started developing their fully automated driverless parking back in 2015. Their initial partnership including car2go, the which is the car-sharing unit of Daimler.
They debuted their automated valet parking function back in 2017 at the parking garage of the Mercedes-Benz Museum.
Then in 2018, after intensive testing, museum visitors ere able to test the automated parking service with one very important warning, a human safety driver must always be behind the wheel.
Using their smartphone app, visitors could reserve vehicles from the facility. Their vehicle would arrive independently to the designated pick up place in the garage.
When the visitor is finished with the vehicle, they could deliver it to the drop off area. The vehicle would then drive itself back to its assigned spot, guided by the garage's infrastructure and onboard sensors.
The pilot program was limited in scope and restricted by a safety driver, but it served a valuable purpose for Bosch and Daimler and even other companies hoping to use automated driving in Germany.
That said, Germany does not have an approval process for automated driving without a human driver.
From the beginning, Bosch and Daimler brought in authorities from Stuttgart and the state of Baden-Württemberg’s transportation ministry as well as experts from the German certification authority TUV Rheinland.
You would think the group would assess the safety of Bosch & Daimler's parking function but it also helped regulators come up with guidelines for testing and the approval benchmark that could be applied beyond the pilot project in a parking garage in Stuttgart.
Bosch & Daimler tested lighting ideas on the vehicle's pilot project. They used turquoise lighting to indicate that the vehicle was in automation mode and informed others passing by along with other road users, that the vehicle was driving itself.
This is not the only Bosch & Daimler project that is in the works. In 2017, they partnered to bring fully automated vehicles to urban roads within the next 10 years. Last year, they announced plans to have a pilot robotaxi service in San Jose, Calif.
They are planning on using automated Mercedes-Benz S Class vehicles during the second half of 2019. There will be a geofenced area in the San Carlos and Stevens Creek corridor which is between downtown and west San Jose.
The pilot will have an on-demand ride-hailing service app operated by Daimler Mobility Services. All rides will be monitored by a safety driver.
Presently, Bosch is building a $1.1 billion facility designed to assemble semiconductors used in self-driving cars, smart homes, and smart city infrastructure.
The Dresden-based chip is expected to start manufacturing silicon, commercially, in 2021 and construction is expected to be finished in 2019.