HomeAutonomous VehiclesFord, Bosch team with Detroit real estate firm Bedrock on automated valet parking

Ford, Bosch team with Detroit real estate firm Bedrock on automated valet parking

Vehicle maker Ford, automotive supplier Bosch, and property developer Bedrock are combining on a demonstration project in Detroit, Michigan, to automated valet parking, so vehicles drive and park themselves in an enclosed garage.

The project, at Bedrock’s Assembly Garage in Detroit, is billed as the first “infrastructure-based [sensor-based] solution” for automated parking in the US. The Assembly is a 160,000 square-foot (15,000 square-metre) office, retail, and residential site in the downtown Corktown district in Detroit, with 50 below-ground parking spaces.

The trio said the automated valet parking solution will increase parking capacity at the site. Additional services will be offered for parked vehicles, they said. The project will use (Escape model) test vehicles from Ford and ‘smart’ sensor and communications infrastructure from Bosch.

Research will take place at Ford’s new ‘mobility innovation district’, also in the Corktown neighbourhood, by Michigan Central Station. According to a statement, “mobility innovators and disruptors from around the world” will join the fray in Corktown. They are engaged there anyway, said Ford, to develop, test, and launch “new solutions to solve urban transportation challenges, improve mobility access, and prepare for connected and autonomous vehicles”.

Bedrock said it wants to combine “ground-up and historical developments with the newest technology in parking and mobility”. It has already installed an automated parking stall, which uses street-level load bays to park and retrieve vehicles from the basement of the 1920s art-deco Detroit Free Press Building in the same neighbourhood. The automated parking stall at the Free Press Building is billed as the “Midwest’s first”.

The new demonstration at The Assembly will be available for tenants and private showcases through the end of September. 

Details about the workings of the project are scant. The test vehicles operate “in a highly automated fashion”, said a statement from the companies involved. A vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) connection runs to the parking sensors, it said, and “recognise and localise” the vehicle and “guide its parking manoeuvre”. This includes avoidance of pedestrians and other hazards.

Drivers are able to leave the test vehicles in a designated area, and instruct its automated parking and retrieval via a smartphone app. The trio said they will also use the project to demonstrate how vehicles can move between service areas, such as charging points and or car washes, as well as parking spots.

Insights from the project will inform user experience, vehicle design, and parking structure design, they said. They reckon automated parking lots can accommodate 20 percent more vehicles, and remove the hassle for drivers and valets, whether using a retrofitted solution, as per the new project, or embedded infrastructure planned into the construction of new garages.

Ken Washington, chief technology officer at Ford, said: “We are searching for opportunities to expand our leading suite of Ford Co-Pilot360 driver-assist technologies that help people drive more confidently and we believe automated valet parking technology holds great promise. Our work with Bosch and Bedrock also aligns with our vision for the future, which includes increasingly automated vehicles that are more aware of their surroundings while requiring less on-board computing to help improve design, packaging and affordability.”

Heather Wilberger, chief information officer at Bedrock, said: “We strive to be at the forefront of parking and mobility initiatives in Detroit because we recognize the importance of interconnectivity between real estate and mobility. In addition to drastically reducing park time, we see this solution as the first step to bringing automated parking to our city, providing the ultimate convenience for our tenants, visitors, neighborhoods and residents.”

Mike Mansuetti, president of Bosch in North America, said: “For Bosch, automated valet parking brings together our deep cross-domain experience in mobility and building technologies to deliver a smart infrastructure solution that improves everyday life. This technology enables consumers to see the benefit of highly automated technology as the vehicle handles a task such as parking in a garage.”

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