Traffic Congestion Alleviation

Rutgers Engineering Researchers suggest that making detailed Web-based parking data maps could alleviate traffic congestion

The search for an open parking spot, especially in downtown areas with congested streets and expensive central garage parking options, might finally be facilitated by the project designed by Rutgers Engineers. By combining ultrasonic sensors, GPS receivers, and cellular data networks, Rutgers Engineers, led by assistant professors Marco Gruteser and Wade Trappe, have been able to create a highly-effective and cost-efficient way to find the nearest available parking spot.

The team was able to develop and construct an algorithm using the data collected as drivers commuted through Highland Park over a two month period of time. The algorithm was able to translate ultrasound distance readings into a count of parking spaces that was 95% accurate. Additionally, using the GPS data, the team was able to create a map that showed which spots were occupied and which ones were open.

The next step that the Rutgers’ Engineering Team took is identifying and correcting the errors that came up when the location coordinates given by the GPS receiver were accurate for only up to three meters. Successfully decreasing their error rate by more than half, the team developed an additional algorithm that detected fixed objects such as street signs and trees using the ultrasonic sensor readings.

Following the success of the second algorithm, Gruteser, Trappe and the team used a data set of 536 taxicabs in San Francisco, all of which were equipped with sensor systems to study their mobility patterns. Gruteser states that the “real-world deployment shouldn’t be that difficult”. Researchers hope to dispense parking availability information over the Internet and in conjunction with navigation device companies. The Rutgers Team looks forward to its project report being showcased at the Annual International Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications and Services to be held in June in San Francisco, California.

By: Sayuri Khandavilli