Dearborn. Michigan – Completely self-driving cars may still be years away, but Ford and its partners hope to take one of the least pleasant motoring tasks away from vehicle owners – parking. Real estate company Bedrock installed Bosch connectivity equipment in one of its Detroit-area garages, allowing connected Ford Escape crossovers to park themselves inside.
The demonstration project will take place in the Corktown neighborhood, the site of Ford’s new mobility innovation district, anchored by Michigan Central Station. 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.
“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. “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 demonstration project will be on display on the ground floor of Bedrock’s Assembly Garage, the real estate developer’s first residential redevelopment project in the Corktown neighborhood.
“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,” said Heather Wilberger, chief information officer at Bedrock. “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.”
The connected Ford test vehicles operate in a highly automated fashion by vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication with Bosch’s intelligent parking infrastructure. The infrastructure sensors recognize and localize the vehicle to guide its parking maneuver, including the ability to help avoid pedestrians 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. “This technology enables consumers to see the benefit of highly automated technology as the vehicle handles a task such as parking in a garage.”
Upon arriving into the garage, a driver will leave the vehicle in a designated area and use a smartphone app to send 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, expediting the parking experience and removing the responsibility of finding the vehicle upon return to the garage.
Automated parking solutions bring value to garage owners by allowing for the more efficient use of spaces inside a parking garage. With automated valet parking, the same amount of space can accommodate up to 20% more vehicles. The solution can be deployed via retrofitted solutions like the one in the Assembly Garage or with embedded infrastructure planned into construction of new garages that enables optimized design for maximum capacity.
In addition to simply parking, a vehicle could also drive itself to areas within the garage for specific services such as vehicle charging or a car wash. During the demonstration project, Ford, Bedrock, and Bosch will demonstrate vehicle paths showing how a vehicle would move between service areas and ultimately to a parking spot before the user calls it back to leave the garage.