Waikato Researchers Transform Car Parking with Artificial Intelligence

The frustrating prospect of finding a car park may be a thing of the past, thanks to computer scientists’ research from the University of Waikato. To make everyday life easier for Kiwis, Waikato researchers and parking management company Parkable have teamed up to bring artificial intelligence (AI) to the humble car park.

It’s thought that the research by the School of Computing and Mathematical Science could genuinely revolutionise the simple experience of finding a car park by using algorithms and live video capture to monitor the individual car parks.

“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.

“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.”

In essence, drivers will no longer be randomly searching for car parks — instead, they will be guided by the AI system to find the closest car park available. The goal is to save time and frustration for every driver.

Toby Littin, CEO of research partner Parkable, says the current lack of innovation in the car parking industry is due to monopolies, overly punitive policies on infringements, and a comfortability with the status quo.

Parkable is a sharing economy service with a mobile app that allows people to lease and hire car parks, much like Airbnb will enable people to contract and hire properties. Property owners can use the app to rent out their unused car parking spaces, and drivers can rent those car parking spaces.

Parkable themselves have made efforts to shift this stagnant paradigm by introducing licence plate recognition technology and adding EV charging functionality to their app service.

“I think there’s an 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.”

Fingers crossed that this AI breakthrough will also force the large parking management business to innovate to provide a better customer experience.


Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

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