Finding a car spot is frankly a nightmare in modern cites. According to research conducted by INRIX the average driver can spend 67 hours every year trying to find a spot. This can contribute to around 30 per cent of urban traffic. Now this data is based on European cities such as London and Frankfurt, but I’ve no doubt our capital cites suffer from the same fate.
But according to the research it’s actually a matter of motorists simply not knowing where the spaces are. In the UK some local authority car park occupancy rates can actually be as low as 50 per cent.
In order to help the motorist find a park, Ford and Vodafone are collaborating via new connected-vehicle technology. Space Guidance Technology can direct drivers to the number of free spaces and the most efficient route to get to them.
Tobias Wallerius, engineer, Product Development, Ford of Europe said: “Satnavs are great at helping us to get to our destination but aren’t so useful when it comes to helping us to park there – especially in city centres,”
“Parking Space Guidance is a connected‑vehicle technology that could help drivers to more quickly complete their journey, saving them money, time and benefitting overall air quality.”
Michael Reinartz, Head of Innovation for Vodafone added: “When vehicles can exchange data with infrastructure in real-time, traffic will become more intelligent, searching for a parking space will become less stressful and people will get to their destination more quickly.”
Parking Space Guidance provides real-time car park data. The program is being trialled by Ford and Vodafone in Germany, it’s all part of a €15 million cross-industry project.
A central computer system sends information to test vehicles regarding road status and car park information. It then uses their geolocation plus data from dynamic digital road signs.
But this kind of cloud-based technology can go way beyond finding car spots. Further features being demonstrated include:
Traffic Light Assistance System, in which the time remaining on upcoming red or green traffic signals is displayed on the instrument panel. Advance warning of a red light can reduce hard braking, which could lead to safety, fuel economy and traffic flow benefits as drivers adjust their speeds accordingly.
Tunnel Information System whichprovides advance information about lane closures, speed limits and slow-moving vehicles in tunnels up ahead.
Vario Display delivers up-to-date information to the instrument cluster about major events that may impact local traffic, such as exhibitions, concerts or football matches.
Traffic Control Systems on the motorway help to improve the overall traffic flow by adapting speed limits.
Smart traffic sign transmission sends speed limit and hazard sign information directly to vehicle displays. While traffic sign recognition using cameras is present in many vehicles, it can be challenged in poor weather or surrounded by high-sided vehicles. Transmitting sign information to the vehicle using a cellular connection directly from the sign or a nearby road-side unit ensures drivers see important safety information.
Bad weather warning automatically communicates weather conditions from one vehicle to others nearby; for example, if a vehicle’s automated windscreen wipers detect rain, it will broadcast this to advise nearby drivers via their in-vehicle displays in case they may wish to adjust their speed or route.
The future is all about vehicle‑to‑vehicle and vehicle‑to‑infrastructure communications, bring it on.