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ParkNet is future of parking?

US: Professor Marco Gruteser and students at Rutgers University’s Wireless Information Network Laboratory invented a prototype system called ParkNet. It is designed to provide real-time data on available legal parking spaces. The system will rely on multiple cars carrying the ultrasonic sensors, such as a taxicab fleet and GPS data to provide the information to server systems.
Tracking the speed of mobile phones, they could estimate traffic flow and how long it would take to get to Manhattan. But then there was the next step: How long does it take to find a parking spot?
“At some point, we realized that there’s this other story — once you get to your destination, you need to find a place to park,” Gruteser said. “And getting real-time parking information is difficult and there wasn’t any good source for it. So we came up with this way to sense parking information and be able to get it to your navigation system.”
Using ultrasonic sensors, GPS location finders and wireless networks, the Rutgers group assumed that 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 devices or smart phones, where parking spaces are open.
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.”
Gruteser said he hopes the product will be ready for widespread use in about two years. It would probably cost a few hundred dollars per vehicle if rolled out today, but the price could eventually be brought down.
Source: www.nj.com