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Infrastructure-Based Automated Valet Parking Debuts in Detroit

Sept. 11, 2020
Connected Ford Escape test vehicles drive and park themselves in a downtown garage via Bosch’s Level 4 AVP system.

Ford Motor Company, commercial real-estate firm Bedrock, and Bosch are launching a demonstration project with connected Ford Escape test vehicles that can drive and park themselves inside Assembly Garage in Detroit. This is the first solution of its type in the U.S. for automated valet parking, where the vehicle will park itself inside a parking garage.

“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 Company. “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.”

Bosch’s automated valet parking (AVP), the world’s first fully automated system (SAE Level 4), not only takes the hassle out of searching for a parking spot, but also handles the actual task of parking the car in the parking garage. Upon arriving at 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. The Bosch infrastructure installed in the parking garage then takes over and interacts with the technology in the vehicle to drive it to the vacant space and park it.

Drivers will also use the app to request the return of the vehicle to the designated pickup area, expediting the parking experience and removing the responsibility of finding the vehicle upon return to the garage. The system provides customers with an innovative and attractive parking experience and enables parking facility operators to optimally deploy their parking capacities as well as offer a range of new services.

The connected Ford test vehicles operate via vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication with Bosch’s intelligent parking 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.

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.

Mobility Innovation

The research effort is taking place in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit, the site of Ford’s new mobility innovation district, anchored by Michigan Central Station. The district is expected to draw mobility innovators 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.

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.

Drivers benefit from reducing the stress of looking for a parking space. What’s more, around 40% of all passenger vehicle accidents involving property damage occur during parking and maneuvering. Tight parking spaces often require multiple maneuvering actions, which can quickly result in dents and scratches. Getting in or out of a vehicle is nearly impossible when cars are parked tightly beside one another. As a result, Bosch has found that almost two-thirds of drivers would be willing to relinquish control of their vehicles during parking maneuvers.

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.”

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