There are plenty of studies that show that most people aren’t ready to turn over responsibility for driving from place to place to their vehicle — but what about just the parking? Ford, Bosch and Bedrock, a Detroit-based commercial real estate development firm, are ready to find out.
Ford and Bosch are partnering up to test autonomous mobility technology near the automaker’s Detroit technology campus in Detroit. The demonstration project uses connected Ford Escapes tied into Bosch’s automated valet parking technology in Bedrock’s Assembly Garage using Bosch smart infrastructure.
This is the first U.S. infrastructure-based solution for automated valet parking where the vehicle will park itself inside a parking garage, according to Ford.
“We are continually 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,” said Ken Washington, chief technology officer at Ford Motor Co.
“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.”
The set up is pretty simple. After pulling into the garage, the driver leaves the Escape in a designated area, then using a smartphone app, sends the vehicle into an automated parking maneuver. Drivers will also use the app to request the return of the vehicle to the designated pick-up area, making it quick and easy – since the driver doesn’t have to figure out where the vehicle was parked – to get in and out of the garage.
The research will take place in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, the site of Ford’s new mobility innovation district, anchored by Michigan Central Station that the automaker is in the midst of rehabilitating to use as its technology headquarters.
The demonstration project will take place on the ground floor of the garage, which is Bedrock’s first residential redevelopment project in the Corktown neighborhood. The automated valet parking technology will be running for Assembly tenant and private demonstrations through the end of September.
The connected Ford test vehicles operate in a highly automated fashion by vehicle-to-infrastructure, or V2I communication with Bosch’s intelligent parking infrastructure. The infrastructure sensors recognize and localize the vehicle to guide its parking maneuver, including avoiding pedestrians, vehicles and other hazards. If the infrastructure senses something in the vehicle’s path, it can stop the vehicle immediately.
“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,” said Mike Mansuetti, president of Bosch in North America, in a statement.
“This technology enables consumers to see the benefit of highly automated technology as the vehicle handles a task such as parking in a garage.”
The district will draw mobility innovators and disruptors from around the world to develop, test, and launch new solutions to solve urban transportation challenges, improve mobility access for everyone and prepare for the increasingly connected and autonomous world ahead, the automaker mentioned.