Watch Ford and Bosch demonstrate automated valet parking system

If you think you’d feel comfortable getting out of your car, tapping a button on your smartphone, and then watching your vehicle trundle off into the distance all by itself, then automated valet parking may be right up your street.

Ford has teamed up with Bosch in Detroit, Michigan, for what it describes as “the first U.S. infrastructure-based solution for automated valet parking” inside a parking garage.

Shown in the video below, the demonstration project will allow those involved to learn more about user experience, vehicle design, and parking structure design as the team behind the technology considers ways to roll it out more widely.

For the trial, Ford is using connected and autonomous Escape vehicles capable of vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication with Bosch’s intelligent parking infrastructure.

How it works

When the occupants hop out of the car, the owner hands control to Bosch’s system via a tap on a smartphone app. Sensors placed all around the parking garage will then fire up and help to guide the car to an available space before performing the all-important parking maneuver.

The system ensures that the vehicle safely avoids any obstacles that suddenly appear in front of it as it makes its way to the space as well as during the parking process.

Collecting the car is simple, too, with just another tap on the app needed to request the return of the vehicle to a designated pick-up area.

For anyone that’s wasted valuable time crawling around a massive parking garage wondering if they’ll find a space before their life ends, as well as those who return to the garage only to realize they’ve forgotten where they’ve parked their vehicle, the advantages of automated valet parking are obvious.

More space, more vehicles

Bosch says that its system can accommodate up to 20 percent more vehicles than usual as the cars can be parked more closely together, with space for pedestrian walkways also unnecessary.

Notably, the system can be set up via retrofitted solutions like the one shown in Ford’s demonstration, or, for maximum capacity, incorporated into newly built, specially designed structures.

The German engineering and technology company also suggests that as well as simply parking a vehicle, the system could guide it to different places within the garage for various services such as vehicle charging or a car wash.

“For Bosch, automated valet parking brings together our deep cross-domain experience in mobility and building technologies to deliver a smart infrastructure solution that improves everyday life,” Mike Mansuetti, president of Bosch in North America, said on the company’s website. “This technology enables consumers to see the benefit of highly automated technology as the vehicle handles a task such as parking in a garage.”

Bosch has been developing its automated parking system for several years, and last year teamed up with Mercedes-Benz to offer a demonstration of a version of the same technology.

Other companies are also developing kit for autonomous parking, among them Stanley Robotics, which has built a robot that lifts the vehicle off the ground before transporting it to an available space.

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