Radar-based sensor network helps drivers finding a parking spot

February 26, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Searching for a parking spot can be quite annoying. In particular in urban areas, motorists waste lots of time and fuel on the search for a place where they can leave their vehicle - for a couple of minutes or overnight. A test project in Munich currently puts a radar-based sensor network through its paces that could help drivers to find a parking spot faster and easier.

Motorists in places like Paris, London or Rome are familiar the situation: To find a free parking spot, drivers have to go for miles; at average it takes 4.5 kilometres. According to a recent study from Apcoa, up to 30 percent of the traffic in cities today are accounted to searching for parking lots. A network of radar sensors mounted on lamp post now is the basis for a smart parking management solution currently tested in Munich.
The sensor network continuously monitors the parking lot and reports the occupancy status to a parking control centre. Because the sensors are easy to install on or in street lights, there’s no need for major interventions into the infrastructure. The solution is also more accurate and not only notifies if there is an object in the parking space, but also sends information about the size and position of the vehicle. The overhead system also detects any obstructions on cycle paths, bus lanes or garage and forecourt entrances caused by incorrectly parked vehicles.

The measurement data is transmitted via mobile radio to the control centre, which records the sensor data, calculates the corresponding parking space occupancy, and prepares it for use by app operators in services such as assistance for drivers in locating parking spaces. What makes the solution unique is that the software works with a system that is capable of learning. It detects recurring parking space situations at particular times and calculates forecasts so that users know what to expect when they arrive at their destination.

Siemens uses technology from Intel for connecting the sensors to the internet. The Intel IoT (Internet of Things) platform enables the parking sensors to be connected securely and flexibly with the control centre.

Besides the radar sensors which survey parking space occupancy, the system also utilises RFID transponders to identify resident parking permits, special permits for disabled persons, vehicles that are part of a car sharing