Smart Transport

How do we accurately set the bar for autonomous valet parking?

Author: Alastair Evanson, Horiba Mira head of commercial and business development for Assured CAV

It is broadly agreed that autonomous valet parking (AVP) is likely to be among the first uses of self-driving automation the majority of motorists will encounter.

The reasons are straightforward – car parks present a manageable challenge for the technology and there are few drivers who will begrudge machines taking over such a joyless chore.

The challenge of AVP is a close-at-hand test for vehicle automation because car parks are finite physical spaces and will initially operate at slow speed.

Moreover, in their automated guise, car parks will become devoid of pedestrians, not only adding to the safety dividend, but also removing a major critical dimension from the operational design domain (ODD), which reduces the complexity of the autonomous solution required.

The challenge of automated parking is more resolvable in a way autonomous driving in varied road conditions is not. It also has the potential to unlock myriad benefits that improve efficiency. AVP also presents new commercial opportunities, enhances quality of life and makes a contribution to the pressing issue of air quality.

From an urban efficiency perspective, AVP presents a solution for city planners and urban transit authorities in the face of the tendency of ‘manual’ cark parks to be inefficient as drivers look for spaces, which contributes to congestion on the surrounding roads.

Meantime, from a commercial view, the need to manage the interaction of pedestrians and vehicles within the confines of car parks has necessitated the integration of speed calming to temper traffic flows and loss of productive space given over to the safe egress of pedestrians for car park operators.

While these considerations may prove an inconvenience for a solitary driver, they aggregate into considerable efficiency losses for scale users of car parks – from large employers to operators of public and private facilities such as hospitals, airports, convention centres and hotels as well as commercial fleet operators such as hire car companies.

With the new ISO 23374 standard under development, interoperability between cars and car park infrastructure is on the horizon.

This convergence of standards is set to catalyse the development of AVP solutions that have, until now, been hindered by the nature of parking that demands interaction between multiple and disparate parties from vehicle manufacturers to payment system providers and urban architects.

This new array of commercial opportunities AVP offers for nextgeneration car parks includes the potential to increase site capacity by allowing vehicles to be parked closer together.

For existing car parks being retrofitted for AVP, the removal of pedestrian walkways will also provide more commercially productive space (extra parking bays) and the enhanced capability to close and secure parking areas to enhance vehicle security.

Together with optimised in-bay EV charging, seamless payments and optimised pricing, these benefits are just the starting point for not just efficiency savings, but an entirely new platform for emerging services.

Horiba Mira’s new £100 million Assured CAV (connected and autonomous vehicles) facility provides a perfect controlled car parking environment benefitting from 4G/5G connectivity to test not just AVP for vehicle manufacturers, but all upstream and downstream contributors from architects to civil engineers, Mobility as a Service developers to fleet managers and car park operators.

It provides the opportunity to test the performance of parking systems and infrastructure.

However, as part of Europe’s most advanced CAV testing infrastructure, Horiba Mira’s Assured CAV provides far more than just a facility to test AVP.

With its comprehensive ecosystem that interlinks autonomous vehicle testing environments for higherspeed highway driving (Assured CAV Highway), simulated urban driving with more complex road junctions and interaction with a urban environment (Assured CAV City) and the 1,900sq m multi-storey car park (Assured CAV Parking), it is possible to replicate the last mile ‘500/50/5’ dynamics that see a vehicle transition from 500m of highway travel to 50 metres of city streets and complete its final 5metres into a car park bay.

With its scalable capacity to span all conceivable use cases and applications of AVP, Assured CAV Parking provides a hub for manufacturers, hardware and software developers, communications providers and infrastructure companies to collaborate on the opportunities this first test of autonomous solutions presents.

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