Smart park garage experiment underway in Corktown

Parking your car in the city could be much easier in the near future. Ford and other companies are testing out new technologies now in Detroit's Corktown. 

"As we make our vehicles smarter, the world around us is also getting smarter," says Greg Stevens, the global manager of Ford's Driver Assistance Technology. And a combination of Ford's cars, Bosch's technology and Bedrock's infrastructure is hoping to achieve that in a Corktown parking garage.

German auto parts maker Bosch is testing it with Mercedes in Stuttgart, and this week it announced the collaboration with Ford and Bedrock.

"You get out of your vehicle, use the app to send the vehicle away to park, and you don't have to pay attention to it," Stevens says. Think of it as an electronic valet. 

So the companies are using Corktown as somewhat of an experiment, but getting it up and running is complicated. 

"The vehicles have to have conductivity, they have to have steering that can be controlled by computers, brakes engines shifting, start, stop," Stevens says. 

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So what's the point of it all? Fitting more cars in the garage. 

"Because we don't have to worry about people opening and closing doors," says Kevin Bopp, the Vice President of Parking Mobility for Bedrock. 

Bedrock owns the parking garage just west of downtown where Ford and Bosch are testing a system using modified Ford Escape small SUVs and about 20 floor-mounted laser sensors. And for Bedrock, this automated parking garage is just the first.  

"In the future, every asset that we have that accommodates parking is going to accommodate this type of technology," Bopp says.

This type of technology can actually do more than just park your car.

"If it's an electric vehicle it could be charged while it's gone. If the system sees that the car is charged it can move it to another spot without you being there and maybe in that spot your car is getting washed or some other service," says Kevin Mull, who's with Bosch's Ability Solutions. 

After this parking experiment is up and running for about a month, the group will get feedback to see what customers like and don't like and make changes.

"We believe this is going to be the hub of mobility and transit innovation," Bopp says.