The State of Michigan is teaming up with Ford, Bedrock and Bosch to launch the nation’s first-of-its-kind, real-world test site for emerging parking technology – called the Detroit Smart Parking Lab. The lab opens in September, allowing mobility and smart infrastructure pioneers and real-estate innovators and startups to test parking-related mobility, logistics and electric vehicle charging technologies. Led by Enterprise, the collaboration also aims to test more seamless and efficient rental car returns.
“Michigan continues to lead the way in developing, testing and deploying the solutions that will drive the future of transportation, including mobility-related parking solutions,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “Innovative collaborations like the Detroit Smart Parking Lab are solving issues that will make transportation more accessible and affordable while creating an environment for technology and mobility-related companies to thrive and grow in Michigan.”
Whitmer announced the unique collaboration Thursday at the Management Briefing Seminars hosted by the Center for Automotive Research in Traverse City, Mich., joined by representatives from all the participating firms.
“Collaboration is essential for the future of mobility,” said Paul Thomas, executive vice president of Mobility Solutions, Americas for Bosch. “With the Detroit Smart Parking Lab, we have a cross section of collaborators – from government leaders to mobility and tech companies – that that will empower us to bring innovation to market through collaboration.”
DSPL builds upon the automated valet parking demonstration led by Ford, Bedrock and Bosch in August 2020 when they showcased Bosch automated valet parking technology that allowed Ford Escape vehicles to drive and park themselves at Bedrock’s Assembly garage.
“Parallel parking or finding spots in busy, tight structures are some of the most stressful driving situations, which is why Ford invested heavily in innovations such as our parallel parking assistance technology,” said Craig Stephens, director, Controls & Automated Systems, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. “The Detroit Smart Parking Lab will help us collaborate with other innovators on even better solutions to make parking easier, so it doesn’t spoil an evening out.”
To spur other innovators exploring advanced parking technologies, the MEDC in partnership with the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification has established the Michigan Mobility Funding Program where organizations can secure funding to develop and test parking-inspired mobility solutions within and around the garage.
“Real estate, auto and government working hand-in-hand allows us to not only maintain Detroit’s position as the Motor City but showcase the city as the evolving tech hub of the Midwest,” said Heather Wilberger, chief information officer at Bedrock. “Finding parking in urban environments can account for as much as 30 percent of vehicle traffic and emissions. As the city’s largest real estate developer, these collaborations and programs allow us to develop, test and implement advanced parking technologies to help reduce parking time and emissions, helping to drive sustainability benefits throughout our portfolio.”
Automated technology comes to the vehicle rental prep process
Enterprise, the brand owned by the largest car rental provider in the world as measured by revenue and fleet, will test how the automated valet parking technology can apply to the quick turnaround (QTA) process where rental vehicles are returned, serviced via cleaning and fueling (including charging) and then staged for future rentals. The smart parking lab’s initial project examines how automated technology – specifically automated valet parking and EV charging technologies – can help enhance operational efficiencies through the QTA process. The project will examine the technical, operational and financial feasibility of such technologies as part of the vehicle rental process.
“Participation in the DSPL project allows Enterprise to explore the feasibility and viability of autonomous, connected, and electrified mobility innovations with recognized technology collaborators,” said Chris Grayson, Regional Vice President at Enterprise in Detroit. “As consumer demand and infrastructure viability increases in the coming years, these types of vehicle technology will play an increasingly important role in both the future of sustainable mobility overall and our fleet at Enterprise.
Multiple paths for open innovation
The open innovation platform at this smart parking lab offers multiple ways for mobility organizations to use the facility independently, work together with founding members on a specific project or apply for grant projects. Interested organizations can inquire about space in the lab, and collaborations by visiting the American Center for Mobility website at www.acmwillowrun.org/detroitsmartparkinglab.
“Michigan’s already well underway building the future of roads in the state, and with Detroit Smart Parking Lab we are now taking the lead on creating the future of parking,” said Trevor Pawl, Chief Mobility Officer for the state of Michigan. “Working together with partners like Bosch, Bedrock, Ford and the American Center for Mobility we can build a stronger state economy through safe, more equitable and environmentally conscious transportation for all Michigan residents.”
Day-to-day operations of the parking lab will be managed by the American Center for Mobility (ACM), a not-for-profit collaborative effort comprised of government, industry and academic organizations focused on accelerating the mobility industry supporting advanced and scientific research, testing, standards and educational programs.
“ACM has broad experience operating a 500-acre smart mobility test center where we’ve seen the power of testing emerging mobility technologies in intentionally challenging environments,” said Reuben Sarkar, president and CEO of ACM. “The Detroit Smart Parking Lab provides a new platform for ACM to introduce our operational excellence and client-base to, enabling further development of new mobility innovations.”