Michigan Pilots New Parking Technology to Help Innovate the Future of Parking Operations at the Detroit Smart Parking Lab

Dec 5, 2023News

State, technology, automotive and real estate partners come together to showcase Michigan’s growing mobility ecosystem and deployments from eight start-ups

LANSING, Mich. – Today, founding partners of the Detroit Smart Parking Lab (DSPL) announce $500,000 in renewed operational funding and grants for mobility startups deploying new parking technologies through the Michigan Mobility Funding Platform (MMFP). Following the success of the DSPL over the past two years, these funds will support a new wave of technology startups as they test and demonstrate solutions for last-mile mobility, sustainable parking and EV infrastructure enhancement.

In 2021, the State of Michigan partnered with Ford Motor Company, Bedrock Detroit and Bosch to launch the DSPL, the nation’s first-of-its-kind, real-world test site for emerging parking technology. The lab, which is operated by NextEnergy and ParkRite, has brought more than 400 mobility leaders to the Motor City, allowing more than 20 mobility and smart infrastructure pioneers as well as real estate innovators and startups to test parking-related mobility, logistics and electric vehicle (EV) charging technologies.

“The work that these startups are doing to develop, test and deploy technologies at the DSPL brings us one step closer to our goal of deploying 100,000 EV chargers to support the adoption of 2 million EVs by 2030,” said Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II. “These strategic grants and collaborations demonstrate that whether it’s by land, air or sea, mobility solutions of the future are being made right here in Michigan. Our continued partnership and support for DSPL will further position Michigan as a leading destination for high-tech education, testing and training of these next-generation mobility solutions.”

The increase in grant funding, combined with the ongoing operational funding from DSPL partners and Michigan’s Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME) is a testament to the lab’s continued success. The State’s financial support has been a catalyst for further contributions from the industry. In fact, for every $1 of state support, the mobility industry has matched $23 of total contributions.

“Mobility solutions are evolving, which means our parking solutions need to follow suit,” said Justine Johnson, Chief Mobility Officer of the State of Michigan. “We are proud to see these mobility companies taking initiative and coupling state support with a mindset of innovation and collaboration in not only charging technologies, but the infrastructure and grid solutions that are needed for

those technologies.”

Parking Technology Breakthroughs

The collaborative testing environment of the DSPL lends itself to innovation in new parking-related technologies. Many innovations that are tested in the lab have potential to make the future of parking more accessible, including:

  • Bosch showed a demonstration project in 2020 of its automated valet parking together with Ford and Bedrock at the Assembly Garage where the DSPL is now located. The company continues to utilize DSPL for testing of automated valet parking and has also deployed five other projects from across its portfolio.
  • Flash  collaborated with Michigan-based startup Tappy Guide to develop and test a parking and recharging payment and reservation system focused on assisting those with disabilities. The technology allows users to reserve handicap-accessible EV charging through an integrated app.
  • Joule Labs developed and tested a robotic arm to help with ease of charging for those with disabilities.

The DSPL is also home to exploratory parking infrastructure advancements such as identifying best practices for upgrading existing facilities to support EV functions, from entrance to exit. This includes electrical infrastructure, surrounding grid preparedness, as well as vehicle weight capacities and spacing:

  • Cron AI is testing a 3-D lidar solution, which will enable users to map out facilities without the use of video.
  • Elevated is working to integrate autonomous technology into its existing parking stacker.

Success Story: ItsElectric

Mobility startup ItsElectric first joined Michigan’s tech ecosystem in August 2022 following its acceptance into the DSPL. Since then, the company:

  • expanded its Brooklyn headquarters to its new Detroit location at Michigan Central;
  • is one of three startups to receive first-round DTE Emerging Tech Fund support, with plans to continue growing its workforce in Michigan;
  • recently installed an EV charger in front of Newlab at Michigan Central specifically for the charging of Grounded RVs, becoming the world’s first 250-mile electric RV and celebrated with a road trip across the state of Michigan in October.

“The DSPL has been a catalyst for the growth of our company in many ways since we joined in 2022. Not only does the DSPL serve as a test site to validate our technology, but it has also served as a showcase space for us to demonstrate our technologies to potential new partners, customers and investors,” said Nathan King, cofounder and CEO of ItsElectric. “The state of Michigan and DSPL have supported us not only through grant funding, but by helping us collaborate with like-minded companies and organizations that are seeking to revolutionize how parking will play a role in the future EV ecosystem.”

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.