Vision based system monitors parking bays

Car parking could become easier with the development of a machine vision system with algorithm for identifying unoccupied parking spaces.

Analog Devices and Cambridge Consultants have announced a cost-effective, smart monitoring system that helps ease parking frustrations for drivers. The innovative system saves drivers time and makes parking easier by monitoring space occupancy for on-street and indoor garage parking spaces without adding expensive infrastructure. This enables a number of significant parking improvements. For example, drivers can be assigned a parking space as they enter a car garage, enabling them to go straight to their allotted spot. Or they can request a specific space in advance if they plan to shop at a particular outlet. If the data from the occupancy sensor is combined with number plate recognition, drivers can also be offered automated payment and help with locating their parked car.

The new smart system is enabled by Analog Devices’ award-winning Blackfin Low Power Imaging Platform (BLIP), which is a low-cost, low-power embedded computer vision platform targeting a vast array of real-time sensing applications. Using a highly sophisticated algorithm designed by Cambridge Consultants, BLIP can visually detect which parking spaces are occupied or empty. This is a significant improvement over costly alternative methods, which involve digging up roads and car parks to install individual sensors under each parking space.

“The BLIP platform allows Analog Devices to make significant contributions in emerging IoT spaces such as smart building and cities where this a radical shift from passive to real-time intelligent sensing nodes,” said Michael Murray, general manager, Industrial IoT and Sensing, Analog Devices. “We’re excited to collaborate with Cambridge Consultants on this project. The company’s world-class expertise in complex algorithm development allowed us to algorithmically enable BLIP for an application that would create a unique way to relieve a major source of frustration for drivers everywhere.”

Parking surveys regularly report that the search for a parking space can often take up to 20 minutes with the average motorist wasting thousands of hours during their lifetime trying to find a vacant spot. In addition to the economic cost of this wasted time, it also adds to pollution and congestion on the roads.

“Our unique smart system uses machine vision to establish whether each space is free or occupied with no need for expensive infrastructure,” said Dipak Raval, a commercial director at Cambridge Consultants. “It’s an excellent example of how machine vision can provide a cost-effective way of monitoring occupancy over a wide area, since the camera is able to ‘see’ multiple bays.

“Our expertise in algorithm development has enabled us to ensure the technology works in a variety of lighting conditions and can cope with different sizes of cars, trucks and motorcycles without giving misleading results if pedestrians are standing in a parking space, for example, or shopping trolleys are left behind.”

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