Aug 9, 2021 - Economy

This parking garage is a high-tech research lab

Rendering of the Detroit Smart Parking Lab in Detroit.

Rendering of the Detroit Smart Parking Lab. Photo: Bedrock

An urban laboratory is opening inside a Detroit garage to let researchers test new parking technologies for cities coping with shifting priorities.

Why it matters: Parking is a hassle for drivers in most cities, with experts attributing as much as 30% of traffic and emissions to cars searching for a parking spot. If cars could park themselves efficiently, it would ease some of those problems.

Driving the news: The Detroit Smart Parking Lab, opening in September, will allow mobility and smart infrastructure companies to test parking-related mobility, logistics and electric vehicle charging technologies in a real-world setting.

  • The lab is a joint project by Ford, Bosch and Bedrock, a large Detroit real estate company. The state of Michigan is making grants available to companies to test their innovations onsite.

Rental car giant Enterprise was the first to sign up. It will test how automated valet parking technology can make the rental car return process more efficient.

  • Instead of an employee driving returned cars to the service area for cleaning and refueling, vehicles could potentially drive themselves and then automatically be staged for future rentals.

What to watch: Cars that can park themselves could also be shuffled during the day for electric charging or washing, and parking garages can be repurposed as vehicle staging areas for robotaxis and automated delivery fleets.

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