Ford Escapes park themselves in automated valet project in Detroit
Searching for a parking spot is far from the most enjoyable part of driving, and lately we're seeing how autonomous systems might handle this final leg of the journey. The latest example is a collaborative effort from Ford, Bosch and Detroit-based real estate firm Bedrock, in which connected Ford Escapes find empty spaces and park themselves inside a garage.
The demonstration is taking place inside Bedrock's own parking garage in Detroit, and follows similar research projects from Daimler, Audi and a number startups. Last year, Daimler and Bosch even earned approval for a smartphone-operated parking system at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.
Now Ford is joining the party, describing the new system as the first US infrastructure-based solution for automated valet parking. The system consists of Bosch sensors that recognize the connected cars as they come in, and then guide them to an empty spot, avoiding pedestrians and obstacle as they go.
Users need only leave their vehicle in a designated area as they arrive at the garage, and can initiate the automated parking process via a smartphone app. The same goes for when they come to collect their vehicle, with the app used to initiate the return and the autonomous system bringing it back to the designated area.
Ultimately, these types of technologies could make parking garages more efficient, and not just in terms of time. Ford says that up to 20 more vehicles can be accommodated in a garage using automated valet parking, and the approach could also be used for different services, such as a car wash or electric vehicle charging.
You can see a Ford Connect park itself as part of the project in the video below, as well as hear from some of those involved in the project.