Months of teamwork culminated in the launch of the automated parking service at IAA Mobility, the largest automotive event in Europe, which was organised in Munich, Germany, on 6–12 September 2021. Unikie’s automated parking solution was a part of the joint project of the German Association of the Automotive Industry VDA, the aim of which was to introduce the future of mobility. The solution turns mobility into an experience, in which parking, washing, and charging of the car have been automated and are implemented without the driver.
At Unikie, we have developed automated, infrastructure-based mobility of vehicles already since 2015. Remote control is based on technology built into the infrastructure, for example, an intelligent technology environment created in the parking garage, where sensors, Edge data processing and cloud-based data processing enable communication between the vehicle and the parking area. The solution was currently at the demonstration phase, and several automotive manufacturers have expressed interest in it. However, our plans were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced us to cancel scheduled meetings.
As an innovative and solution-oriented company, we refused to stand idly by. Instead, we got to work to create a way to meet up with our prospective customers. We acquired premises in the Turku Fair Centre for the development, testing, and presentation of our autonomous mobility solution and organised virtual customer demonstrations of our Automated Factory Parking solution for interested parties. The demonstrations were a huge success. We were able to evoke the interest of several automotive factories, which resulted in an invitation for Unikie to become a member of the German Association of the Automotive Industry VDA and AUTOSAR, a worldwide development partnership of vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, service providers and companies from the automotive electronics, semiconductor and software industry.
The membership of VDA provided Unikie with the opportunity to become part of VDA’s Automated Valet Parking joint project together with the leading automotive manufacturers and technology suppliers. The idea of the joint project was to promote the implementation of the standard related to the remote control of vehicles and autonomous mobility and to develop the interoperability of the environments of various car brands and technology suppliers. The Automated Valet Parking Showcase was presented in September at the IAA Mobility 2021 trade show in Munich.
A new operating model ensured the success of the project
The preparations of the joint project for the Automated Valet Parking demonstration started at the end of 2020. The smart system that utilises data and machine learning was developed during the project to interoperate with the technology and the technical interfaces developed by the leading automotive manufacturers. The participating companies included automotive manufacturers BMW, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar Land Rover, and VW Group’s technology company Cariad. In addition, four technology suppliers participated in the joint project. In addition to Unikie, Bosch, Valeo, and Continental/Kopernikus participated in the project with their own parking service solutions. All technology suppliers built their systems to interoperate not only with the systems of the various automotive manufacturers, but also to function in parallel with the parking systems of the other suppliers.
The premises acquired by Unikie for the development, testing and presentation of its autonomous mobility solution played a significant role in this. We created a development environment in the premises, which enabled Unikie’s system and the environment installed in the parking facility in Munich to be developed from many different locations. In addition to autonomous driving technology, sensors and cameras, the parking garage in Munich was equipped with several surveillance cameras to enable remote teams to monitor the cars’ response to changes in systems and applications. This way we were able to develop the environment and technology with a large number of experts – regardless of the location of the developers.
Unikie’s development team received praise and credit
Development work was not problem-free within the joint project. Conducted simultaneously, the development work of four technology suppliers with the automotive manufacturers posed, at times, even major challenges to the development work of the others. Corrections or changes made to one system could cause errors in the other systems. In addition, each car model had its specific challenges and features that required case-specific reactions. Nerves of steel, as well as flexible and super-quick problem-solving skills, were required from the members of Unikie’s technology team.
Pressure was also generated by the fact that the testing of the systems developed by the automotive manufacturers and their compatibility could only be started a couple of months before IAA. It quickly became evident, based on the tests carried out in Munich, that the complexity of the systems at the automotive manufacturers’ end (the car, background systems, data transfer) would make the project even more challenging. The interoperability of the various car manufacturers and the environments of various technology suppliers posed a real challenge to all technology suppliers. However, the challenge was not that simple for the automotive manufacturers either, as each of them have their own carefully protected application, equipment, and operating environments that ensure the safety of critical systems.
Unikie’s team participated in resolving the errors and problems observed by the automotive manufacturers and other technology suppliers in their own systems. As the result, Unikie’s technology team and project management were greatly praised for their flexibility, participation in the development of the overall solution, and cross-border collaboration. The level of collaboration between the participants was almost astonishing, as everyone pulled together as a team without squabble despite the challenging nature of the project and the tight schedule. Unikie’s team showed incredible dedication to the project to ensure its success.
Automated Parking development projects around the world
Overall, IAA and the Automated Valet Parking project were great successes for Unikie. Several automotive manufacturers as well as technology and logistics companies were able to see Unikie’s level of expertise up close, which has led to many Automated Parking development projects around the world. Unikie’s technology will be first utilised in the factory environments and other closed facilities of several of our customers.
As the member of VDA and the AUTOSAR community, we are heavily involved in the development of the code and criteria to be created around the ISO standard related to remote control and autonomous mobility, as well as in the development of the safety of the related environments.
The number of potential implementation methods and applications of infrastructure-controlled vehicles is huge in various industrial and logistics sectors. The technology that we have developed is at the cutting edge of its field internationally. If you are interested in the opportunities provided by artificial intelligence, IoE, and 5G networks to infrastructure-controlled vehicles, do not hesitate to contact Unikie.
More information of the case of Automated Valet Parking for all car brands.