Earlier this week, we reported that the Ford Escape was being used as a prototype/test bed for Ford’s autonomous driving efforts. Now, The Blue Oval has confirmed that report by announcing that it has partnered with Bedrock and Bosch to launching a demonstration project with connected autonomous Ford Escape test vehicles that can drive and park themselves inside Bedrock’s Assembly Garage in Detroit 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. The research 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.
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. The project aligns with Bedrock’s vision of combining ground up and historical developments with the newest technology in parking and mobility – including the current installation of the Midwest’s first automated parking stall, which parks and retrieves vehicles in the basement of the Free Press Building using street-level load bays.
The automated valet parking technology will be running for Assembly tenant and private demonstrations through the end of September.
The connected autonomous Ford Escape 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.
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 more efficient use of spaces inside a parking garage. With automated valet parking, the same amount of space can accommodate up to 20 percent 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.