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Waikato computer scientists revolutionise the car parking experience through AI

19 January 2021

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Artificial Intelligence experts from the University of Waikato continue to make the lives of everyday New Zealanders easier, with their latest commercial collaboration with parking management company Parkable.

The new technology is being developed by researchers from the School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences and could radically improve the experience of finding a car park, with the help of machine learning algorithms which monitor the car parks in a smarter way, identifying available parks from video images.

“We are prototyping a car monitoring system that uses a small, cheap camera, with a small micro-computer plugged directly into it, explains WaikatoLink General Manager of Commercialisation, Matt McMahon, who is working with the researchers and Parkable on this collaborative project.

“The system uses machine learning models to identify cars and empty car parks so that the Parkable service can direct parkers to available parks in real time, and car park owners or administrators can monitor occupancy.”

The goal is to have a better parking experience for everyone.

Improving the car parking experience

Toby Littin, CEO of Parkable, says the current parking model is broken, characterised by monopolies, punitive infringing, and frustrating processes.

"I think there's a really exciting future for parking. Innovative technology is the way to move toward a world where we utilise our space better and create more seamless, positive parking experiences.”

This year Parkable launched Licence Plate Recognition technology and added EV charging functionality to the platform.

Mr Littin says this venture with WaikatoLink as the next stage in bringing new, human-centred innovations to parking.

Using a mobile app to manage the car parking experience

Parkable is a sharing economy platform and mobile app which allows people, businesses, and property owners to rent out their underused parking space. Drivers use the app to find available car parks, book them in advance, and pay for parking.

Parkable also offers car park management software to enterprises which want to make better use of their parking space and improve staff, visitor and tenant parking space, through simple booking and sharing of car parks.

This new technology solution is aimed at small and medium municipal and private car park owners, with the potential to dramatically change the price point for car park management, which in New Zealand is largely controlled by big car parking management businesses.

Instead of existing in-ground technology using sensors, the new system will process video data in real-time, monitor multiple parking bays at once, and run on several cheap computers, removing the need for high bandwidth, expensive servers and cloud processing.


This research aligns with the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure Sustainable Cities and Communities

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