Finding parking spots can be exasperating for big city drivers. In European inner-cities for examples, vehicles looking for parking spaces account for as much as 40 percent of traffic. Siemens AG has nonetheless come up with a solution using a radar system to tell drivers via their smartphones where to look for a free parking spot.
The company has developed the Smart Parking Solution. At the core of this parking management solution is a newly developed overhead radar sensor technology that constantly monitors parking facilities from a height of several meters and relays occupancy information to a control centre. These sensors can easily be installed on or in streetlights, so there is no need to interfere with the infrastructure as a power supply is already available.
Readings from the sensors are sent over a mobile network to the control centre for data analysis. The prepared information from the data analysis include size of parking spaces relevant to the size of a particular vehicle, statistical and real-time information on parking vacancies, and parking rates among others. Route planner apps and infrastructure-based or in-car navigation systems can also use this information.
A key benefit from using the system revolves around reducing search time and improving trip planning. Thus, at the individual level, it can tremendously improve the experience of vehicle owners and commuters.
What makes the Smart Parking Solution special is that the software learns as it operates. It recognises when a parking situation is repeated at certain times, combines statistical and real-time data, and makes forecasts. The system also assists users in selecting a suitable mode of transport. Using the provided traffic information, drivers may opt in advance to use a park-and-ride system on the edge of the city or even leave the car at home and take public transport.
However, the system is more than just a practical companion for drivers in Europe. Siemens envisions this technological product to become an integral part of a multipronged solution for developing and maintaining so-called smart cities.
“The Siemens Integrated Smart Parking Solution is a modular, infrastructure-based sensor system that goes beyond the possibilities of ground sensors,” said the company. “Imagine a tool that allows you to effortlessly form a clear picture of where available parking spaces can be found and how long each space has been occupied for, while providing an overview of improper usage of any non-parking areas as well as nearby Bicycle and Emergency Vehicle lanes.”
The system is nonetheless a novel approach to traffic management. For instance, local governments can use the system to monitor traffic behaviour for law enforcement and obtain pertinent traffic data for city planning. It can also promote the adequate use of city resources, moderate traffic volume, and reduce vehicular emissions.
An initial pilot project has already been installed on the Bundesallee in Berlin for test and demonstration purposes. Each sensor in the network scans an area of approximately 30 meters from above like a flashlight, covering five to eight cars. The results of the test will be available in 2016, and are expected to demonstrate the viability of the system. The pilot installation is part of the federally funded Renewably mobile project in which Siemens is exploring the potential of sensor-controlled management systems for roadside parking and electric recharging points in cooperation with different stakeholders, including the national government.
Siemens expects a broader rollout next year. It will also run a full implementation in Dubai within this year.