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Bosch wireless sensors on pavement report available parking spaces

At the Bosch ConnectedWorld conference in Berlin, the company unveiled wireless sensors, to be installed on pavement, that will create real-time maps of available parking spaces. These sensors recognize whether a parking space is occupied or not, and share this information via the internet.

The wireless sensors installed on the pavement are built into stable, semicircular plastic housings similar to the kind often used to mark lanes on roads. The wireless sensor is capable of recognizing if a car is parked over it. A tiny, energy-saving radio transmitter in the sensor reports this information to a receiver (similar to a home WiFi router) that is capable of gathering data from hundreds of sensors.

Another advantage of the new development is that the sensors can remain in place for several years, doing away with the time and expense needed to change batteries or sensors. The power supply lasts for such a long time because the sensors require extremely little power for data transmission and feature an advanced energy management system, eliminating the need for elaborate and failure-prone cabling.

In the future, Bosch noted, even cars passing by available parking spaces will be capable of reporting them—i.e., drive-by parking space recognition. The ultrasonic sensors installed in many modern cars to support their parking assistance functions identify gaps along the side of the road. (Ford Motor Company is working on projects along these lines.) Since many vehicles are now online, this information can also be transmitted over the internet and displayed on a real-time map.

Transmitting this real-time information to users’ smartphones or directly to their cars’ navigation devices can help shorten drivers’ often taxing search for parking spaces.

In Germany, the average search for a parking space takes ten minutes, according to a survey of drivers on behalf of Europe’s market leader in the field of parking management. The survey reveals that Germans drive 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles) when looking for somewhere to park, resulting in vehicle costs of €1.35 (US$1.54) per search.

In short, the faster people find a parking space, the less nerve-wracking, expensive, and environmentally damaging the experience.

The status information is then transmitted over the internet to a database. A software program creates a parking map of the respective area practically in real time. Depending on the application, we could be talking about a level of a parking garage, a street, or an entire downtown area.

—Dr. Rolf Nicodemus, head of the Connected Parking project at Bosch


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