The first car with Level 4 autonomous driving: what is this evolution about?

Mercedes-Benz debuts the "Intelligent Park Pilot“ at Stuttgart airport, where S-Class and EQS models can drop off their driver and drive on until parked
Mercedes-Benz debuts the “Intelligent Park Pilot” at Stuttgart airport, where the S-Class and EQS models can leave their driver and continue on their way until parked

The Federal Motor Transport Authority of Germany (KBA) gave the go-ahead so that for the first time in a public place, the models of Mercedes Benz that have the technology that allows it, can put into operation the Mercedes Intelligent Park system, whose new function is to Automatic parking valet.

On the way to developing fully autonomous driving, which the industry has not yet reached and will still take a reasonable time, the scale of assistance to human beings through the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) it has six levels. Level 0 is that of a car without any type of assistance, levels 1 to 3 incorporate more tools as the scale goes up but the car still helps the human being in driving, while the situation is the opposite in the levels 4 and 5, those in which people are the ones who passively collaborate with the car, even being able to not be on board it for it to work.

Mercedes Y Sling They are the only two manufacturers that in 2022 received the approval of their systems ADAS level 3, although only to be used on specific roads previously scanned, in Germany and Japan respectively. On these stretches of highway, drivers can stop paying attention to traffic and take their hands off the wheel, although they must be seated in the driver’s position for eventual interventions or to resume command when conditions dictate. It is autonomous driving at a moderate speed for fluid traffic.

Automatic Valet Parking is activated from an app that the driver has on his own cell phone
Automatic Valet Parking is activated from an app that the driver has on his own cell phone

But the German brand has just taken a new step and officially become the first to be enabled for the driver to get out of the vehicle but it still continues its march with no one behind the wheel. This equates to a ADAS level 4, and although it is in a very controlled and specific area, this is how these developments are carried out. Although it may seem like a small thing, for the user of the car to reach a certain point where he can stop and get out, and for the car to then go to park on its own, is a great technological advance.

The setting is parking lot number 6 of the Stuttgart Airportwhere the association of Mercedes Y Bosch, has made it possible to create the technology in the car and the infrastructure in the space on which the action will take place so that automatic parking can be carried out safely. And the models that can make use of this system are the eqs and the sophisticated S-Class.

It all starts with an application called “Mercedes me”, through which the car is ordered to prepare to look for a space in the parking lot once the driver has left the vehicle. The same order will be repeated when the user wants the car to pick him up when he requests it. Thus, without a person behind the wheel, the car will park on his own and it will stop the engine until it receives the message to restart and go to the meeting point with its user.

Parking sensors are linked to those in the car to ensure a safe environment for autonomous operation
Parking sensors are linked to those in the car to ensure a safe environment for autonomous operation

The infrastructure installed by Bosch consists of sensors placed in the parking lot to monitor travel lanes and their surroundings. These are connected to the vehicle’s sensors, which convert information from the parking sensors into driving maneuvers. Vehicles can even up and down ramps autonomously to move between different levels of the place.

Once driving autonomously, if the infrastructure sensors detect an obstacle in the path through which the car will go, it will send the order to the on-board computer, which will brake automatically until the vehicle comes to a zero stop. Only when the system verifies that the route is clear again will the car resume driving and the parking process.

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