Innovation That Matters

In-ground sensors alert drivers to open parking spots


Websites like SpotScout and Google Open Spot can help urban drivers find a place to park, but typically they rely on other users to post the relevant details when a spot opens up. A new solution now at work in Issy-les-Moulineaux, France, however, uses in-ground sensors to provide such information automatically. The brainchild of Paris-based SmartGrains, ParkSense is an integrated solution based on specially designed sensors that are placed directly in the ground in parking areas. The presence of a vehicle changes the sensor’s ambient magnetic field, allowing it to infer whether or not there is a vehicle in a particular spot. The durable sensors are also connected in a mesh wireless radio network, allowing each one to report any spots that open up. Drivers, meanwhile, can use the free ParkSense iPhone app to see the resulting information as to what parking spots are available nearby. SmartGrains’ sensors are resistant to vandalism, skidding, water and dirt, and they last at least three years in between battery changes. The system as a whole is suitable for indoor and outdoor use in streets, parking lots, retail settings and airports, SmartGrains says, with obvious benefits in the form of consumer convenience, reduced congestion and less gas wasted. Some 30 percent of most urban traffic consists of drivers trying to find spots, SmartGrains notes. Municipal planners around the globe: one to bring to parking-weary drivers in your part of the world? (Related: Marketplace for long-term parkingOnline exchange for parking spaces.) Spotted by: Irene Festa



Download PDF