Professor Albayrak, will hunting for a parking space soon be a thing of the past?

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"Automated vehicles have the potential to change society for the better. Once cars are connected to one another and to their environment, once they can predict what will happen next and can also respond appropriately, traffic on our roads will become safer and more efficient. There will be fewer accidents, as most of them are caused by people.

Berlin test track for interconnected cars

Professor Albayrak
Computer scientist Sahin Albayrak applies artificial intelligence to road traffic systems.

One of the first applications for automated vehicles will be to shorten – and one day put an end to – the often tedious business of finding a parking space. Since April 2017, this is one of the many issues we have been working on at the Digitally Connected Protocol Track on the "Strasse des 17. Juni" avenue in Berlin. On a four-kilometre stretch, we are developing and testing automated driving functions under genuine traffic conditions on a public road. To this end, we have set up dozens of cameras and sensors along the test track. They measure things like traffic flow, whether traffic lights are green or red, and whether the road surface is slippery. The sensors also identify any free parking spaces. Small roadside computers continuously transmit all of this data to a processing centre, from where the information is sent out to our interconnected test vehicles.

When a driver is hunting for a place to park, the analysed data enable the car to indicate where the nearest free space can be found. Comprising sensors, cloud data and interconnected cars, the system is learning continuously, which allows it to make predictions. For example, it notices if certain parking spaces are occupied or become free at the same times each day – such as those close to an office building. The sensors on our test track also detect when a light goes on in a stationary car or when a driver puts the vehicle into reverse just before exiting the space. If another driver nearby is also looking for somewhere to park at the same time, the system will indicate in real time where a parking space will become free a few moments later.

Cars will park themselves

It will be a while before all vehicles and the entire infrastructure in cities are interconnected. And while there is still a mixture of the two, with some cars connected and others not, situations that are all too familiar will still arise: the system cannot for example prevent a connected car competing with a non-connected car for the same parking space at the same time. However, I am convinced that we will see many interconnected cars on our streets in ten years' time. Sooner or later they will even drop their drivers off at their destination and go off to look for a free parking space on their own."

 

Professor Sahin Albayrak

A computer scientist, Professor Albayrak has taught for 15 years at Technische Universität Berlin, where he holds the chair in Agent Technologies in Business Applications and Telecommunication. In addition, he is founder and director of the Berlin-based Distributed Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (DAI). Both institutions research how information technology, distributed systems, networks and machine learning can contribute to overcoming future challenges to society.

www.dai-labor.de > Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Sahin Albayrak