DETROIT – So after the coronavirus threat has passed, you head downtown for a baseball game.
You get to the parking garage, and using an app on your phone, you link your SUV to the garage’s computers and sensors, and the SUV finds a spot on the fourth floor and parks itself while you catch batting practice.
This isn’t some far-off technology. German auto parts maker Bosch is testing it with Mercedes in Stuttgart. And last week it announced a collaboration with Ford at a garage near downtown Detroit.
Although the backers won’t say when the technology could be in widespread use, they say it’s one benefit from autonomous-car research that is coming sooner rather than later.
“The goal is as soon as practically possible to deliver a safe experience,” says Kevin Bopp, vice president of parking and mobility for Bedrock, the real estate arm mortgage giant Quicken Loans.
Bedrock owns the parking garage where Ford and Bosch are testing a system using modified Ford Escape and about 20 floor-mounted laser sensors.
Bopp sees the technology moving from the test to a residential building where selected tenants would be able to summon vehicles for personal use with the custom parking feature. Data would be gathered and problems worked out, and from there, the systems would spread to other smart garages with sensors and computers.
Since doors don’t have to be opened and vehicles can be parked closer together, garage operators can park 15% to 20% more vehicles in the same space, reducing the need for garages and allowing precious city space to be turned into parks or other uses, backers say.
The automated valet parking likely will come before widespread use of fully automated vehicles because existing features can be used to move the vehicles without humans behind the wheel, said Greg Stevens, global manager of driver assist technology for Ford.