Bosch partners with GAC to make driverless parking a reality in China

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<em>In this image from Bosch, (left to right) Guo Jishun, head of the Intelligent Driving Technology Department of GAC Research Institute; Peng Fei, a deputy director from GAC; Wang Ting, a director from Bosch China, and Chen Ming, regional president of Bosch Connected Mobility Solutions in China at the signing ceremony in Suzhou on Wednesday, October 23, 2019. (Image credit: Bosch) </em>
In this image from Bosch, left to right: Guo Jishun, head of the Intelligent Driving Technology Department of GAC Research Institute; Peng Fei, a deputy director from GAC; Wang Ting, a director from Bosch China, and Chen Ming, regional president of Bosch Connected Mobility Solutions in China at the signing ceremony in Suzhou on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. (Image credit: Bosch)

Top auto-parts supplier Bosch has formed an alliance with Chinese automaker GAC to adapt its automated valet parking (AVP) system for the world’s largest auto market, with plans to introduce the technology as early as 2020.

Why it matters: The joint project is the first of its kind between Bosch and a Chinese OEM. The German Tier-1 supplier, in line with Beijing’s aggressive vehicle-to-everything technology initiative, bet big on driverless technology to shore up its momentum as China’s auto market declines.

  • Auto sales in China slid 10.3% year on year to 18.37 million units in the first three quarters of the year. China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) in August reduced its sales projection to 26.68 million units in 2019, about 1 million fewer than the previous forecast.

Detail: Bosch on Wednesday announced a partnership with the Chinese automaker GAC Group’s R&D Center to develop a fully automated driverless parking system, without the need for a human driver behind the wheel, as part of a move to woo the country’s early adopters.

  • The two companies plan to pilot its driverless parking service early next year in China’s first-tier cities, namely Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen.
  • Parking lots at local shopping malls, office buildings, and sports stadiums will be the key targets. Bosch showcased the technology last year in the parking lot of Daimler’s R&D center in Beijing. It so far has two other pilot sites in Shanghai and the eastern city of Wuxi.
  • Production for vehicles with the Level 4 driverless parking function is planned for the end of 2020. L4 is the first level of truly hands-free automation, meaning a car can drive itself under limited conditions, according to the Society of Automation Engineers (SAE).
  • The localized solution is expected to be economically feasible for Chinese parking lot operators. Only a small number of cameras and basic network equipment are required with the exception of Lidar, a critical and pricey component that enables autonomous cars to sense objects 360 degrees around.
  • The auto industry sees driverless parking as having great commercial prospects in China for its widely anticipated potential to relieve drivers from time wasted searching for parking. However, it has to reach a threshold of installation in at least 100 parking lots across major cities before demand will require mass production, according to industry estimates.

Context: Bosch started developing its AVP with German peer Daimler in 2015, combining Lidar, cameras, and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication facilities to detect objects and calculate distances.

  • The two companies in July this year announced the co-developed system was approved for operation at the Mercedes-Benz Museum parking garage in Stuttgart by local authorities, making it the world’s first fully driverless parking system officially approved for everyday use.