The city of Detroit, in partnership with both Ford and Bosch, is about to open a new Smart Parking Lab, hosted in Detroit’s Bedrock Assembly Garage. It’s a real-world environment to test future autonomous technologies that could be used to refine autonomous valet parking into a product. Opening in September, the facility will also enable these companies to test if it’s possible to introduce automatic smart charging into the system.

The Detroit Smart Parking Lab is designed to continue work showcased last summer, when Ford and Bosch showed off a self-parking Ford Escape in that same building. The vehicle was able to drive through the car park without human assistance, find a space, and reverse park into it without any stress. It’s hoped that, in some far-flung future when climate change doesn’t kill us all, that this sort of automatic valet parking could free people up to spend more time doing anything other than fighting for a space in a multi-story car park.

As well as Ford and Bosch, rental company Enterprise is going to test how this technology could streamline its own processes. It hopes that cars that drive themselves to a valet station, then recharge themselves before parking back on the lot ready for pickup will reduce dead time between rentals. At this stage, at least, the hope is to just get the cars to park themselves in a manner that’s cost-effective for the company.

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