Transport researchers at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) are testing a highly automated form of searching for available parking spaces in Braunschweig—i.e., automated valet parking. In so doing, DLR is completing another step in putting its Application Platform for Intelligent Mobility (Anwendungsplattform Intelligente Mobilität; AIM) into operational service.
The intention is, at some future date, to enable drivers to dispense altogether with the time-consuming task of looking for a parking space by using smart phones and advanced technology. To date, this technology has only proven possible in privately-owned parking facilities. DLR is now testing a scenario of this kind for use on public roads in one of the car parks at the main railway station in Braunschweig.
In the future, parking a car might look like this: travelers drive to the main railway station, leave their cars near the entrance and walk to the platform. As they walk away, the vehicle automatically drives to a vacant parking space and parks itself independently. Upon return to the station, drivers can call their car using their smart phone; it presents itself at the entrance to the railway station and the owner can drive it away from there.
This future scenario can be accomplished using today's technology; the FASCar I test vehicle owned by the DLR Institute of Transport Systems is equipped with sensors, special drivetrain technology and high-performance computer hardware. This enables the FASCar I to drive on its own, without a driver behind its steering wheel.
A high-definition camera installed in the car park detects vacant parking spaces. In conjunction with a parking space management system, a parking space that satisfies the needs of the driver and vehicle can be allocated to the vehicle wirelessly. The traveller must simply press a button on the smart phone to confirm the proposal from the system and the car automatically makes its way to the assigned parking space.
The smart phone enables the traveller to know where his or her car is located at all times and can also call it up to a readiness position.
In the overall AIM project, DLR has already tested other scenarios—for example, communication between street intersections and vehicles—in public transport vehicles on the streets of Braunschweig. With its valet parking concept, the Institute of Transport Systems has now reached another milestone with AIM.