While most of the self-driving vehicle companies we hear about are working on bringing robotaxis and self-driving trucks to market, Steer Tech, a Maryland-based audio-visual technology company, has focused on delivering high-end autonomy. level for a specific use case: automated parking lot. The startup has secured at least two OEM partnerships to integrate its parking technology as a feature for passenger vehicles, but it is now developing that original thesis and moving into the commercial sector.
On Thursday, Steer said he received $1.5 million in funding from the North Central Texas Council of Governments to develop a testbed at Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport that will demonstrate how an automated parking ecosystem could alleviate high traffic and heavily congested curbside drop-off and pickup areas at the airport, especially as air travel and, therefore, the use of ride-sharing services resumes.
The pilot project, which Sonalker says will last more than a year, will combine three subsystems: low-speed vehicle automation for valet parking, surveillance parking management so that the DFW system can monitor and control all vehicles in AV mode and active digital curb. management. The pilot will initially use 10 test vehicles – a combination of sedans, SUVs and potentially minivans – which have been fitted with AV software and Steer’s sensor suite, which includes radar, camera, ultrasound and a Precision GPS.
“It’s a comprehensive experiential system that keeps airport stakeholders and customers in mind – what would the experience be like and how can you maximize it for them?” Sonalker told TechCrunch. “Usually in the AV space and in most innovation spaces, the design is built for what the technology can do and everyone has to work around that. What we’re trying to do here is create an experience where the airport boss is the center of the experience.
Along with this pilot, Steer is also announcing that it will open up its valet parking APIs so that others, such as OEMs exploring automated valet parking or parking management companies integrating curbside management, can gain access. real-time data from autonomous vehicles. This, according to Sonalker, will lead to greater interoperability between the various digital sidewalk management companies, parking management companies and OEMs.
“The win here for all of us is that the valet itself will move into the next chapter of the rollout, because now there’s an airport here, a real stakeholder, integrating it into their system, and DFW wants the interoperability because, who wants to be locked into one type of system?” says Sonalker. “For that system to be adopted, everyone has to come together and agree on some common interoperability standards so that we can build an ecosystem . This is going to take us to the next league on the adoption curve, and we want to rush that.