Four startups join Detroit Smart Parking Lab

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The Detroit Smart Parking Lab (DSPL), founded by Bedrock, Bosch, Ford and the State of Michigan, welcomed four new startups to its plans. 

The new startups will operate under the lab’s recently formed Autonomous Movement Initiative. Utilizing more than $250,000 in grants awarded through the Michigan Mobility Funding Platform, these startups will deploy, test and demonstrate the latest technologies related to autonomous and electric vehicle (EV) charging solutions over the next six months.

"The Detroit Smart Parking Lab fills a vital need in Detroit’s growing mobility scene," said Kevin Mull, Bedrock’s senior urban strategy & innovation director. "Our goal is to provide a pathway for early-stage entrepreneurs to reach commercialization and establish businesses in Detroit. The DSPL presents them with a real-world environment to test and deploy technologies and introduces entrepreneurs to decision-making leaders throughout the local mobility ecosystem."

The newest wave of startups to enter the DSPL are ALBA Robot, AuTowed LLC, ION Dynamics and Joule Labs. These mobility companies will leverage the DSPL to:

  • ALBA Robot: test and demonstrate how self-driving personal mobility vehicle (PMV) services can bring flexibility and independence to people with disabilities by utilizing on-demand AV transportation to get to-and-from facilities like airports, hospitals, malls, museums and other community areas.
  • AuTowed LLC: simplify and solve the challenges related to cargo transportation by utilizing an autonomous prototype to hitch, unhitch and park a cargo trailer.
  • ION Dynamics: bring on-demand EV charging to users. ION Dynamics will demonstrate how its autonomous charging bot can reduce upfront EV charging installation costs by more than 50 percent as compared to traditional fixed charging solutions.
  • Joule Labs: test and prepare its autonomous charging system for commercialization, establish a permanent presence in Michigan and partner with other Detroit energy and commercial real estate companies to further deploy fully automated charging services stations throughout the state.

Launched in 2021 by Bedrock, Bosch, Ford, the State of Michigan and operated by NextEnergy and Park Rite, the DSPL provides the nation’s first-of-its-kind real-world testing site for emerging parking, mobility and EV charging solutions at 1701 W Lafayette Blvd.

Over the past three years, the lab has hosted 20 early-stage startups, and provided nearly $1 million in State-led grant funding. These funds, combined with the lab assets and networking opportunities, have helped to lay the groundwork for an inclusive Detroit mobility ecosystem, supportive of all stages in a businesses’ growth cycle. 

"Detroit has a unique ecosystem, unlike anywhere else in the world, which provides wrap-around assistance for mobility startups regardless of their stage," said Carolina Pluszczynski, Chief Operating Officer & Head of Innovation Services at Michigan Central. "We are proud to be a part of the ItsElectric story as they grow and scale their businesses—utilizing the knowledge and insights gleaned from their time at the Detroit Smart Parking Lab to deliver real-world solutions with the support of the Michigan Central community."  

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