Fight for the Parking Lot

Where is a free parking lot? Many drivers face this problem in cities. Networked parking concepts should relax road users. In the large offer of models, it is important to find the right model.

Bosch, Siemens, Ampido or Evopark: Many firms offer an individual concept for smart parking solutions. Photo: Fotolia – determined

For motorists, finding a parking lot in the city is an ever growing issue. According to a study by INRIX, a company working on mobility solutions, we spend 41 hours per year searching for a parking. The market for smart parking solutions is on the move – and everybody seems to be cooking their own soup. Bosch is testing Community-Based Parking: The driver becomes a parking announcer; the interlinked vehicles report free parking spaces automatically. This is made possible by ultrasonic sensors, which are installed in cars with parking assistance anyway, without the necessity of additional hardware. The sensors detect, where the roadside is blocked or free and transmits the information to the cloud of the respective car manufacturer. From there, the supposed niche is sent to Bosch and then compared to road maps, in order to detect drive ways and no-parking zones. The car manufacturer sends the information back to the car, where they are displayed accordingly. The challenge: all this must be computed in real-time and preferably include a parking lot forecast. Individual adjustments are planned in case the car is equipped with a trailer and needs a larger niche, for example.

Bosch aim at serial production this year, but haven’t yet revealed for which car manufacturers this will be the case. But: there has been a pilot project between Bosch and Daimler since 2016. Mercedes’ new S-Class can already collect data for the service. The upper- and luxury class, however, will not be able to collect sufficient data for painting an exact picture of available parking areas alone. Bosch aims at implementing the service on a brand-overlapping level. Tests have been made with different manufacturers in German and European cities. If customers will be charged for this service is for manufacturer to decide.

Siemens Works on Self-Learning Street Light Sensors

Siemens, on the other hand, count on additional hardware. Not in the car, but on or in street lights. These are planend to be equipped with radio sensors in the future. Each of those sensors could then detect up to seven parking lots at a time and report them to motorists via a smart phone app or the navigation system. Siemens call this Infrastructure-Based Sensor-Network. The Innovations Department for Mobility tested this intermodal parking space management system on one kilometer of the Bundesallee in Berlin in 2015 through 2016. The system is supposed to report empty parking spaces near the drivers’ destination and make suggestions for public transportation for covering the remaining distance.

The system is smart and recognizes the parking behavior of road users. Thus, forecasts could be made on when parking space is available. In addition, Siemens’ street light sensors could act as “digital traffic wardens” at the same time: not only could the system detect empty parking lots, but also report parking offenders to regulatory authorities. Operating with microwave technology instead of photographs, the system doesn’t violate personal rights of drivers. As the sensors are maintenance free and weather independent, Siemens are not concerned with running costs.

A sensor network – based on a newly developed overhead radar sensor – constantly monitors parking space and reports the occupancy status of parking slots to a parking control center. Photo:

Siemens’ clients are the municipalities. For cities, the technology would be affordable, extensive installation not necessary, rather core areas were of importance. There has been interest in Munich and Cologne, but in particular abroad. Firstly in Dubai, but also in cities in Great Brittan, Italy and China.

Start-Ups Offer their Own Solutions

Not only big companies are working on parking solutions. Start-Ups like Ampido or ParkU rent out private parking spaces. A different approach is made by Evopark. In cooperation with partners it is possible to find empty parking lots in parking garages using an app and entering them with an RFID-Card. The bill comes at the end of the month. Parking garage operator APOCA together with Volkswagen also go in that direction. The technology allows touchless entrance and exit, automatic acquisition of parking time and cashless billing. VW-Corporation could already offer this service to their customers in 80 different German cities.

Autonomous driving adds to the excitement in the parking discussion. Bosch together with Mercedes have started a pilot project in their Stuttgart based museum. Every Tuesday and Thursday, the public were able to experience what automated parking service could look like in the future: submission and collection take place in distinct areas, the car finds the way to the parking space and back automatically, using cameras and sensors.

The different development approaches are interesting – yet, a uniform standard and mass-compatible systems will be needed. Until then, we will have to keep searching for parking spaces “manually”.

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