Autonomous driving may not sound like a lot of fun, but autonomous parking may just be a different kettle of fish.
Ford Motor Company, real estate developer Bedrock and Bosch are launching a demonstration project with connected Ford test vehicles that can drive and park themselves inside Bedrock’s new Assembly Garage residential redevelopment in Detroit, in the US, using Bosch smart infrastructure.
The research will take place in the Corktown neighbourhood, the site of Ford’s new mobility innovation district.
The aim is for the district to 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 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 recognise and localise the vehicle to guide its parking manoeuvre, including the ability to avoid pedestrians and other hazards. If the infrastructure senses something in the vehicle’s path, it can stop the vehicle immediately.
Upon arrival 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 manoeuvre.
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.
It is believed that the demonstration project will enable Ford, Bedrock and Bosch to gain insights regarding user experience, vehicle design, parking structure design and application to expand the technology and its application.
Automated parking solutions bring value to property 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 suggested 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 optimised design for maximum capacity.
In addition to simplying parking, a vehicle could also drive itself to areas within the garage for specific services such as vehicle charging or a car wash.
“We are continually searching for opportunities to expand our suite of Ford Co-Pilot360 driver-assist technologies that help people drive more confidently, and we believe automated valet parking technology holds great promise,” says Ford chief technology officer Ken Washington.
“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, neighbourhoods and residents,” adds Bedrock chief information officer Heather Willberger.