Audi is about to trial wireless technology that could make entry and exit to car parks a ticketless procedure.
If the long-term trials succeed, grabbing a ticket on entry to a car park, keeping that ticket safe until departure and then fumbling for loose change or cards for parking payment will be a thing of the past.
The ‘Audi connect wireless payment’ scheme links cars and car parks, enabling barriers to be raised and charges to be paid without drivers needing to lift a finger.
The trial involves 13,000 test cars in Audi’s hometown of Ingolstadt, Germany. The owner of each car registers online to use the service and the car is equipped with an individual RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) transponder mounted on the inside of the windscreen that communicates with the car park.
It’s essentially the same technology that regular users of tollways overseas use to pay their way on a monthly charge basis.
The Ingolstadt Economic Development Agency (IFG Ingolstadt) provides the service. It operates nine car parks and underground parking garages in the city, with a total of 6200 spaces and 21 entrances and exits. The trial participants will receive a monthly bill from IFG detailing any parking charges incurred. The amount is then debited from the user’s account by means of a direct debit mandate.
All Audi AG employees who lease a new car in the coming months will be able to participate in the trial. When their car is handed over, they will receive the “Audi connect wireless payment starter kit”, including a wireless tag.
This latest move to minimise daily parking hassles follows closely behind another parking aid shown earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas – Audi piloted parking.
Also still at the prototype stage, this advanced system is again based on a wireless connection between the car and the car park, but this time enables the car to find the nearest parking space and to guide itself autonomously to that space and park.
The driver activates the futuristic technology with the aid of a smartphone app. The car park’s central computer takes over part of the control function and guides the vehicle via a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) connection to the nearest available parking space. External laser sensors record the vehicle’s movements and this data is processed by the car park’s computer to pinpoint the vehicle.
The central computer also has a map of the car park layout and records parking space occupancy. This information is transmitted to the vehicle, enabling it to drive itself from the starting point to its destination.
The vehicle monitors its surroundings using twelve ultrasound sensors, which also help to guide it autonomously into the parking space or the garage under the driver’s supervision. Once it has reached its final position, it shuts off the engine, deactivates the ignition and locks the doors before finally sending a confirmation to the driver.