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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.

Go deeper

Sep 23, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

Why Instagram ads, billboards are reminding you to lock your car

Image: Instagram

Has your Instagram tapping surfaced ads reminding you to lock your car lately? You're not alone.

What's happening: The Minnesota Department of Commerce's Fraud Bureau partnered with the Hennepin and Ramsey county attorneys to launch a public awareness campaign aimed at reducing auto theft.

  • "Keep your car safe from thieves by parking in well-lit areas, always locking the doors and taking the key or FOB," one version of the black-and-yellow social posts reads.
  • New billboards on major roads, including Hiawatha and I-94, carry similar warnings.

Why it matters: Having your car stolen sucks! But auto thefts also impact the economy as a whole, when insurance companies pass on the cost of repair, replacement and claim processing to consumers in the form of higher premiums.

Details: Commerce doled out about $67,000 to the two county attorney offices to pay for the campaign, which also includes bus ads.

  • The department plans to expand the campaign to Greater Minnesota later this year.

Between the lines: Locking your car may sound like a basic reminder, but forgotten keys and unsecured doors are big drivers of auto thefts.

  • Commerce's 2019-2020 auto thefts report estimates that 60% of cars stolen in the metro were taken after the owner left the keys inside.
  • While the vast majority (93%) of vehicles stolen in jurisdictions participating in a state theft prevention initiative were recovered, many were damaged, again increasing costs.

The bottom line: St. Paul Police Department spokesman Steve Linders told Torey that these "crimes of opportunity" are especially common in the winter, when many of us leave our cars running to warm them up on chilly days."

  • We had a case a few years back that involved a woman stealing a running, unattended vehicle and driving it to the airport," he recalled. "She was arrested at the gate."
Tina Reed, author of Vitals
17 mins ago - Health

Experts predict an easier COVID winter this year

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

This winter probably won't bring another crushing COVID wave, experts say.

Why it matters: Last winter was the deadliest phase of the pandemic, and many Americans are braced for cold weather to once again usher in a surge in cases and deaths. But there are good reasons to think this year won't be nearly as bad.

Not enough votes for corporate tax hike, Biden says

President Biden speaks at the Electric City Trolley Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Photo: Hannah Beier/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Democrats don't have the votes to raise corporate taxes, President Biden admitted at Thursday's CNN town hall in Baltimore, Maryland, where he went into detail on the state of negotiations concerning the massive reconciliation bill.

Why it matters: Democrats are still negotiating what will go into the bill. Divisions within the party have stalled the legislation for weeks.