Ford, Bosch, and Bedrock Technologies today announced an automated valet parking demonstration in downtown Detroit. This system is designed to allow drivers to exit a vehicle that would then park itself in the parking structure.
Systems in a Ford Escape test vehicle communicate with Bosch sensors to locate an empty parking location and move the vehicle into the spot. This system includes safeguards that allow the vehicle to react and respond to objects and pedestrians in its path. The vehicle-to-infrastructure communication platform can be deployed via original construction or retrofitted solutions.
Bosch has been building similar systems for several years. The technology company partnered with Daimler in 2017 to build an automated valet system for the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. In 2019 the two companies received approval from German regulators to run the automated driverless parking function without a human safety driver behind the wheel. This made the system the world’s first fully automated driverless SAE Level 4 parking function to be officially approved for everyday use.
The demonstration announced today is located in Assembly Garage, a parking structure in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood near the Ford-owned Michigan Central Station. The highly controlled demonstration will be on display through the end of September and available for viewing through scheduled tours.
According to the partnership, an automated valet system can accommodate up to 20 percent more vehicles, along with eventually offering additional services such as charging, refueling, or through a car wash.
This partnership is located in a 40-mile corridor between downtown Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan, that is dedicated to developing systems for autonomous vehicles. To be built by Cavnue and a list of automotive partners, the company envisions numerous corridors designed for autonomous shuttles and buses, as well as trucks and personal vehicles.
Cavnue is joined by partners Ford, GM, Argo AI, Arrival, BMW, Honda, Toyota, TuSimple and Waymo on standards to develop the physical and digital infrastructure needed to move connected and autonomous cars out of pilot projects and onto America’s highways, freeways, interstates, and city streets.
Today’s automated valet announcement was praised by the city and state, with Detroit’s mayor and Michigan’s lieutenant governor joining representatives from Ford, Bosch, and Bedrock in announcing the project.
After building a similar system with Daimler, Bosch’s partnership with Ford speaks to the lowering cost of entry, if not to the technology, then at least to the platform it’s installed on. Ford’s demonstration used a compact SUV with an average price of around $25,000. Daimler’s early systems relied on Mercedes-Benz vehicles costing over $100,000.
Ford CTO Ken Washington says the company is not ready to announce when the valet technology will hit production vehicles. He said today automated valet parking is on the company’s roadmap and the company has heard “loud and clear” that parking is a real pain point.