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Entrance area in the office of the connected parking team of Bosch in Ludwigsburg, Germany

Success factor: development

In Ludwigsburg, Germany, a motley crew is working on the future of parking

Reading time: 12 minutes

Parking garage operators and shopping centers, car sharing and car rental companies — connected parking is bringing Bosch into contact with entirely new customer segments.

Car maneuvering into a curbside parking space

In the “Connected Parking” project, Bosch is developing and testing three products in parallel, all of them aimed at solving the major challenges posed by parking. In community-based parking (CBP), vehicles detect vacant parking spaces as they drive past, and make this information available to other drivers via the cloud. And in automated valet parking (AVP), vehicles maneuver their way through parking garages independently.

To make successful inroads into this world of digital services, Bosch has developed unusual business models. For instance, customers are involved right from the start in making the basic idea a reality: "Existing physical technology is combined with digital Bosch technology, connected to the internet, and developed into new services that fulfill customer wishes", says Jürgen Auracher, the head of sales and marketing for connected parking at Bosch.

Gerrit Quast standing in the entry area of the Urban Harbor in Ludwigsburg, Germany
Gerrit Quast, responsible for automated valet parking

This new focus on complementary services also means that the development team has an unusual composition. Associates from Chassis Systems Control, Car Multimedia, Bosch Software Innovations, the Data Mining Lab, and corporate research are collaborating on certain subprojects. “We've never had teams like this,” says Gerrit Quast, who is responsible for AVP. “It's truly the result of a digital transformation.” How? “We are changing our business model as well as the nature of our collaboration, and we're also modifying the technology. This lets us reach new customer segments.”

Jürgen Auracher, Gerrit Quast and Angelika Pfaff in the Urban Harbor in Ludwigsburg, Germany
Experts for connected parking: Jürgen Auracher, Angelika Pfaff and Gerrit Quast (from the right)

In Ludwigsburg, just north of Stuttgart, an ultramodern office complex is taking shape. Known as “Urban Harbor,” it’s a place for innovative work environments in which to shape the future. And the Bosch experts for connected parking are in the thick of it. At Urban Harbor, there is a pioneering spirit in the air. It not only offers ideal spaces for unconventional development teams, but also opportunities to test the new products right on the doorstep. In order to launch their products – active parking lot management (APLM), community-based parking (CBP), and automated valet parking (AVP) – before the decade is out, Bosch is raising the tempo.

Jürgen Auracher, head of sales and marketing for connected parking at Bosch, in the entry area of the Urban Harbor in Ludwigsburg, Germany
Jürgen Auracher, head of sales and marketing for connected parking at Bosch

“We have a start-up mentality and flat hierarchies,” says Jürgen Auracher, head of sales and marketing for connected parking at Bosch. In other words, there is no traditional project manager role — i.e. someone who is in charge of the costs, technology, quality, and timeline for a project. Instead, a product owner manages the team, and so has an eye on customer requirements from the beginning. This function has its roots in product management for agile software development.

In the Connected Parking team's office in Ludwigsburg, Germany, a pinboard full of ideas
Using a pinboard to brainstorm: for the connected parking team, new ideas are constantly in demand

The Bosch experts combine technology from across the company’s divisions and, according to customer needs, apply it in new ways. In automated valet parking, for example, cameras with high-quality image recognition made by Bosch Security Systems direct self-driving cars. In community-based parking, ultrasonic sensors carefully scan the roadside for available spaces at speeds of up to 50 kph. These sensors are normally active only during automatic parking maneuvers.

FAQ about connected parking

How was the development team for CbP put together?

With community-based parking, Bosch is introducing a product that requires expertise from various Bosch divisions. Obviously, it calls for competence in vehicle sensors, and data processing and communications technology are equally important. In CbP, these and even more areas come together to create an interdisciplinary team under the umbrella of the Connected Parking unit. Its associates are spread over five different locations throughout Germany – there is even an office in Silicon Valley.

What role does car sharing play in the AVP market?

The car-sharing business in particular is frantically searching for new offerings that can win customers and put car sharing on an even firmer footing. AVP offers car sharing users a way to have cars delivered to their door, and makes returning them easier. The result is no more long distances to walk, and no long waiting times.

How can automakers benefit from the parking services?

Parking is one of the most tiresome aspects of driving. The connected parking team creates extra benefit for drivers and enables automakers to offer truly relevant services to their customers, using existing vehicle technology (such as ultrasonic sensors, electrical steering, etc.) and without having to invest much in development. It makes parking easier. Besides increasing customer loyalty, it's also a way to for automakers to introduce new business models.

Summary

In Ludwigsburg, Germany, developers from disparate Bosch units are working together to make parking difficulties a thing of the past. This brings them into contact with completely new customers.

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