Translogic 174: Ford envisions the future of parking

Translogic Heads To Georgia Tech For A Demo Of Ford's Remote Parking and Parking Spotter Programs

Translogic visits Georgia Tech for a glimpse at the future of parking. First, we demo the Ford remote parking program by driving a golf cart around campus from the comfort of an off-site lab; think of remote parking as a virtual valet. Then we see how Ford's "parking spotter" works, a crowd-sourced way of finding an open space.

Along the way, Translogic host Jonathon Buckley chats with Ford's global director of vehicle electrification and infrastructure, who explains how these innovative parking concepts could help us get around more efficiently.



Jonathon: You turn the wheel and the cart turns the wheel because we've got to remember that the carts 150 meters down that way. I should use yards because I'm not in Australia any more.

Welcome to Translogic. I'm Jonathon Buckley. Every year in this country we spend over 70 million hours looking for parking. We think that's a pretty miserable way to spend that time but Ford Motor Company and Georgia Tech have taken this problem head on by developing a parking spotter experiment and some pretty cool remote driving functions to go with it.

When it comes to remote vehicle repositioning, you guys have been so far using golf carts?

Mike: That's right.

Jonathon: What's the goal with this type of technology?

Mike: As you probably know, car sharing is becoming one of the emerging trends in mobility. With that, any type of sharing program that we looked at around the world, one of the common challenges it has is that during the end of the day, or the nighttime hours, there's something that has to happen to get all the assets back to where they need to be for the next day. Cell phone technology and broadband technologies have advanced so far that we can remotely control a vehicle from anywhere it the world. For example, we could actually take this and create a virtual valet. You and your significant other pull up to, say, a restaurant. You could potentially get out of the vehicle and then the call center could take your vehicle and park it for you. You wouldn't need to do anything [00:02:00] else other than arrive at the restaurant.

Jonathon: The whole thing's pretty intuitive. It works exactly as you imagine a golf cart would work. The only difference that there really is is there's just a little bit of latency that you have to account for. Obviously that's because we've got to send a signal to the actuators and the actuators have to take effect.

It's lunch time here which means it's busy so there's actually a bit of traffic. There's some foot traffic as well that I have to pay attention to. With the three cameras mounted you get a really wide field of view. So long as you pay attention, I'm really finding this, actually, quite easy.

With the cars set up as we have right now, we have valet drivers on staff moving cars. Would this be a more efficient way?

Mike: Absolutely, because from one location, say here in an office, you could link up with a vehicle, move it, and then go to a next vehicle, etc. One driver could essentially take a whole army of vehicles and move them around as needed.

Jonathon: Whenever we talk about things like this and remote or autonomous driving, the first thing that comes to mind is safety.

Mike: We are using encryption. We are looking to, as we move this and progress this further from an experiment phase, understand what we need to do to address some of the challenges.

Jonathon: I have actually talked to the guys downstairs and they said that there is a LiDAR system strapped to the front of the car that is not going to allow me to go rogue. If I decide to go a bit mental in this cart and start running down the street in it, it will actually stop as soon as it realizes that there is an obstacle in front of me.

When it comes to Ford as a company looking at these parking solutions, some other companies have gone with automation. Why is it you've gone with remote?

Mike: Ford is extremely interested in autonomous vehicles. We've declared that we're working on it and we do believe that technology will be [00:04:00] feasible in the midterm. What is so nice about this technology is that there's always this understanding or this concern that policy may not move as quickly as the technology. When you look at remote repositioning, it might fill in a gap.

Jonathon: Considering this is running over the LTA network which I'm having a hard time with with my phone today, this car we've been driving now for a good ten, fifteen minutes or so, we haven't had any breaks in transmission yet, so it's pretty solid.

One of the other areas you've been working on as well is parking in the city and parking around town and finding those parking spots. You guys are addressing this with a ... Is it a parking spotter?

Mike: That's right. We call it the parking spotter. It really started with looking at data coming off of vehicles today and understanding how much time is wasted for people hunting for parking. Then you think about where navigation has gone, right? Navigation now is started with just getting you where this location is. Then it started mapping the best route from A to B. Our vision is that wouldn't that be nice if the navigation only got you from A to B but it also got you parking. We said could us, Ford Motor Company, could we take a look at how we might be able to become a probe.

That's really what a parking spotter is. It's taking the vehicle and as it drives into a known parking area, the system is turned on. The the ultrasonic sensors that are on the side of the vehicle, that are already there for other features, start scanning both left and right and mapping out both open spaces and occupied spaces. That information is then uploaded to the cloud and then it's accessible by other customers.

Our ultimate goal is to reduce emissions and reduce waste. Parking is a big contributor. Some statistics and some of our data shows that in urban centers, 20 to 30% of a vehicle's emissions is used just for parking.

Jonathon: That's crazy.

Mike: Yeah, it is. It's a lot.

Jonathon: Will we be able to [00:06:00] reserve spots down the track or is that something that will just not work because people will get annoyed?

Mike: That's a really good question. I think that it's inevitable that we're going to start to see reservations in some form.

Jonathon: It's great to see a couple of institutions taking on some areas of driving that really aren't that much fun, moving around fleets of vehicles and finding a place to park them. Let's hope that this technology really gets up and running so that we can get behind the wheel and really start to do the fun stuff. For Translogic, my names Jonathon Buckley. Catch you next time.

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