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At the Mercedes museum, your rental car parks itself

Daimler is trying out automated valet parking on its home turf.

The concept of a self-parking car certainly isn't new, but Daimler is about to take the next logical step on that front. It's partnering with Bosch to launch an Automated Valet Parking service at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. When it launches at the start of 2018, anyone (not just museum guests) can rent cars that will not only drive themselves out, but park themselves upon return. You just need a smartphone app to both make the reservation and the virtual handover when you're done.

The key is the combination of Mercedes' self-driving tech with Bosch's smart car park grid. A slew of sensors in the multi-storey facility monitor the surroundings, telling the car where to go -- it's not just blindly making its way toward an assigned parking spot. A Bosch spokesperson couldn't go into detail regarding the tech, but did note that it should work with any car that meets certain conditions: it needs a parking control unit, an automatic transmission, an electronic stability program and keyless entry.

This ultimately amounts to a tech showcase for Daimler and Bosch, but it's notable that this is an honest-to-goodness commercial offering and not just a tech demo. Even if fully autonomous on-demand cars are still years away, you could see the rise of in-between offerings where the cars park themselves. That would still be a big improvement. You could spend less time marching through car parks and more time enjoying your trips.