Bosch develops self-parking technology with phone app

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LAS VEGAS -- German supplier Robert Bosch GmbH has developed a self-parking function for vehicles that can be remotely activated by the driver via a cell phone.

The self-parking system, which relies on ultra-sonic sensors and video cameras to park the vehicle, will go into production this year [2014], said Tim Frasier, regional president of Bosch Automotive Electronics North America.

Frasier did not identify the automaker that will introduce this feature, but he did say it represents the next logical step for the development of driverless vehicles.

The driver pulls up to an open space in the lot, activates the parking function inside the vehicle, then steps out. Outside the vehicle, the driver activates an app on his smart phone to complete the parking maneuver.

This function will be especially useful in European garages, where parking spaces are tight, Frasier said. "It will work in any parking lot," Frasier said. "It will work in very tight European structures."

The next-generation version -- dubbed valet parking -- will allow the motorist to get out of the vehicle at the entrance to the parking lot, then let the vehicle find its own space. Likewise, the motorist would retrieve the vehicle by starting it up remotely with his smart phone.

Valet parking is not yet ready for production, Frasier noted.

A number of vehicles can parallel park themselves by the curb. This would appear to be the next logical step for self-parking vehicles.

A year ago, Audi AG drew considerable media attention when it unveiled a self-parking vehicle at the 2013 CES show in Las Vegas. The Audi A7 sedan featured a lidar sensor developed by Audi to detect the parking space.

The German automaker has not indicated when its self-parking function might be ready for production.

You can reach David Sedgwick at dsedgwick@crain.com.


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