Teach someone to park a car and they will be happy for a day, teach their car to park itself and they will be happy for a lifetime. Tata Elxsi has developed some new smart parking solutions that could help save time and the hassle for Indian drivers to search for a parking slot and park their cars. With two new solutions and some more technologies in the pipeline, we sit down for a chat with Amit Borawar – Global Competency Head – Active Safety and Autonomous Driving at Tata Elxsi to gain some more knowledge on the new solutions, how they work and who can benefit the most from them.
Tata Elxsi has developed new Smart Parking technologies that can help make parking easier for Indian drivers. Can you explain what are the technologies that have been developed?
We have been working with top global OEMs and Tier-1 suppliers for developing smart parking solutions like advanced assisted parking systems and autonomous parking. We have a platform for autonomous driving, called ‘Autonomai’ and as a part of it, we have developed two smart auto-parking solutions – Park By Memory and Parking Slot Detection.
Our Park By Memory (PBM) is a technology where the car is trained by the driver on how to park in a constrained parking space such as a narrow road or a crowded parking lot. The system learns the parking manoeuvres performed by the user and follows the same path autonomously the next time.
The Parking Slot Detection (PSD) assists the driver to locate the availability of the slots by detecting the slot lines and checking the occupancy of the slots. The system can then generate multiple paths for detected slots (nose-in/boot-in and nose-out/boot-out) and it can then be paired with a park assist system that can automatically park the vehicle.
Compared to other solutions currently in the market, how can Indian customers benefit from your new solutions?
In India, different kinds of parking systems are currently in place – manually managed parking, parking meters, partially automated fee collection and free-slot identification. While most modern cars come equipped with driver aids like proximity sensors, reverse or 360-degree cameras that help the driver park the vehicle more easily, these systems are effective to some extent. Although, they are not the solution to parking concerns in growing urban centres where effective space utilisation is of significance.
With the new Smart Parking technology, we can reduce the amount of time spent by a car driver to find a vacant slot by facilitating the use of smart mobile applications, real-time data transfer, and suitable infrastructure. In urban areas, drivers spend a good amount of time identifying a slot for parking. With Park By Memory (PBM) and Parking Slot Detection (PSD) systems, we can help make it more convenient. As the urban centres expand and advance to become smart cities of the future, we need to have parking systems which enable the cohesion of Smart Parking infrastructures with advanced park assist systems (in cars) enabled through IoT.
How exactly does the Park By Memory function work and how is it different from what is already being offered?
Assisted Parking systems in some cars that can help a driver perform parallel, perpendicular, or angular parking, while Auto Parking allows the car to autonomously park itself after identifying a vacant parking slot. The Assisted Parking can be used in structured parking lots like – malls, office parking, apartment parking, etc. Some luxury cars even in India come with Auto Parking but are limited to parking spaces in residential buildings due to the infrastructure requirement.
With our Park by Memory solution, the user will need to park the vehicle manually once in a particular spot and the system can memorise the inputs and path to the parking slot as made by the driver during the learning cycle, and on the second time, the Auto Parking system of the vehicle can execute the parking manoeuvre on its own.
What are the roadblocks or challenges that are present and may arise soon for the technology?
For a smart parking system to be effective, it needs to have robust hardware, reliable software, and networks for data transfer and communication. In a vehicle, additional sensor usages and software architectures drive up the cost of ownership. Depending on the level of assistance provided by the systems in a car, these costs can vary significantly. It is due to these reasons that mass-market cars are still offering proximity sensors and camera-based systems as aids to manual parking and not a smart parking system.
Similarly, the parking infrastructure needs to be well structured with reserved slots, clear lane markings for parking, and proper parking by other vehicles. The infrastructure can be modernised with sensors, cameras, and systems for identification of occupied and unoccupied slots and communicating the same to vehicles entering the parking slots.
As the cars and infrastructure get modernised, communication between the two becomes a major roadblock. This vehicle to infrastructure communication requires low latency high-speed bandwidths which are some of the limitations of the current 4G network.
What kind of businesses could heavily benefit from the technology and in what sort of application would they find it useful?
Smart Parking solutions would help businesses and offices to increase the parking space utilisation and pinpoint any inefficiencies like unused parked slots. Businesses like supermarkets or retailers can identify unusual or illegal parking, overtime parking, or unauthorised use of their parking spaces. A robust parking infrastructure and advanced park assists in a car can help fleet operators largely. Fleet operators can make use of the systems to automate parking of not just passenger cars but also heavy-duty trucks and trailers. This will help them to save valuable time spent in parking large trucks; reduce fuel expenses, and lead-time. Analytics of parking sensor data provide information on areas with the highest and lowest parking traffic across the day, which allows the space rental businesses to help decide where to expand and scale back accordingly. The hospitality industry relies heavily on customer experience and smooth parking is always a part of check-in experience.
What other solutions can we expect in the future from Tata Elxsi?
We are further working on solutions like Autonomous Valet Parking (AVP) and Infrastructure based parking. With the infrastructure-based parking system, it will enable the car to communicate with parking infrastructure to identify empty parking slots. Autonomous Valet Parking will allow the car to park itself autonomously after dropping the driver off. The system will identify an empty slot and park all by itself. And when the user returns, the vehicle can be summoned remotely and reach its user. These are a part of our roadmap for 2021.