Remote Sensing for Parking Spaces

One big issue with all of the parking finder apps is know where the spots are and when are avaialble. Most systems use some kind of senor device embedded in the road/wall to know if the space is open. What if you didn't have to dig up streets or purchase a sensor for every space? What if you made the sensors mobile?

That's the just of a project from a team at Rutgers.

Using ultrasonic sensors, GPS location finders and wireless networks, the Rutgers group thinks it has come up with a cost-effective way to locate the nearest open parking spaces and give drivers choices.

Taxis, municipal vehicles or mall security cars — vehicles that travel frequently in a given area — would be equipped with sensors that measure distances to obstacles and determine whether there is an available parking space. That information would then be fed to an internet server and matched with a map of legal parking spots.

Drivers would then be able to find out, through their GPS navigation systems or smart phones, where parking spaces are open, saving them the time and frustration of looking for a spot.

Using algorithms, the Rutgers team was able to distinguish between parked cars and other objects such as trees or fire hydrants.

"There are some other obstacles that can be on the side of the road that have that same size and eventually we learn over time, if this obstacle never moves, it’s always there, it’s probably not a car," Gruteser said. "If this space is always open and in an area where parking is very crowded, it’s probably not a legal spot."

In tests accuracy was up to 90%. The sensor today would cost a few hundred dollars but could be brought down. At this point the team is looking for a company to test the sensor.


Published Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Written by Adena Schutzberg

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