Enterprise Rent-A-Car tests Bosch automated parking technology

Now that more and more people are traveling again, one of the headaches associated with it is the generally miserable process of returning rental cars. But the rental giant Enterprise

is testing a system that would eliminate queuing for your car and waiting for an attendant. In fact, you could drop the car off at the garage entrance and walk away.

Business tests a system introduced last year by the German automotive supplier Bosch called Automated Valet Parking (AVP). Testing takes place at the Detroit Smart Parking Lab located in a parking lot in downtown Detroit. The lab is a project involving Bosch, Ford Motor Co.

, Bedrock commercial real estate company, which owns and operates the parking lot, in the state of Michigan and operated by the American Center for Mobility based in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

In addition, the tests include a combo charging station for wireless and wired electric vehicles from Hevo Power to which an EV rental could be directed.

“What interests us about this proof of concept is that it sort of mimics what happens in the real world but simplifies it to a fairly significant degree,” said Chris Haffenreffer, Mobility and Electrification Strategy. and Innovation at Enterprise during a demonstration to reporters on Wednesday. . “It gives us an idea of ​​how it will help our business. “

During the demonstration, several practical scenarios were played out. First, a fitted Ford Escort was brought in as if a customer was returning it. The “customer” leaves and an agent takes over, using a mobile application to direct the car to the space allocated to it where it is parked.

The technology was also used to show the car making a sharp turn in the parking garage and then guided through a fake car wash.

“What we’re trying to do here is create an open innovation platform for parking with business models inspired by mobility technologies, that sort of thing: charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, automated movement of vehicles. vehicles in a low-speed environment, camera technologies, payment systems, curbside monetization, ”said Kevin Mull, Connected Mobility Services at Bosch.

The technology behind AVP is pretty straightforward. No special hardware is required in the vehicle. In the test environment, there are lidar pillars placed in the parking lot monitoring the vehicle, which “talk” to them via wifi to a server in the garage connected to the lidar pillars.

Used in a parking lot at the airport in Stuttgart, Germany, the lidar pillars are being replaced by much cheaper Bosch stereo cameras.

With the expected influx of electric vehicles into its rental fleet, it was also important for Enterprise to find out how Bosch’s AVP could work in conjunction with a charging system. This is where Hevo Power came in.

At Wednesday’s demonstration led by Hevo Founder and CEO Jeremy McCool, the AVP-equipped electric vehicle was directed to a combination of wireless tablet and wired charging station that can be operated manually or programmed via an app. mobile. McCool said the Hevo system is the world’s only combined cordless and plug-in charging system.

“The driver gets out, walks away, he begins to charge. This can be done by a human or automated valet service, ”McCool said.

Enterprise’s use of the Detroit Smart Parking Lab is truly the first major project since the lab’s inception last summer and marks a broader effort to explore new possibilities for urban mobility.

“This is a real-world case study of what it might be like not only for cities like San Francisco or New York that have robust mobility networks, but also cities like Detroit that are trying to struggle between how to welcome the commuter driver entering downtown and the influx of businesses that want to be here, ”said Kate Gasparro, director of urban innovation and strategy at Bedrock. “What do Millennials and Generation Z want? They want to see that we see mobility as a holistic solution.

As for Ford, chief engineer Craig Stephens said the project was part of a much bigger but simple goal. “Both demos really confirm that this is the right thing to do.”

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