Coming soon: App to ease carpark woes in town

Smart City Parking is a voice-activated smartphone application that directs drivers to available parking when driving to the city. Development of the app started in August and it is expected to be commercially available within the next year.
Smart City Parking is a voice-activated smartphone application that directs drivers to available parking when driving to the city. Development of the app started in August and it is expected to be commercially available within the next year.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

It will tell drivers parking rates, available spaces and nearby alternatives

Driving to Orchard Road to catch a Saturday night movie - only to find the carpark is full. It's an all-too-familiar scenario for motorists here.

However, a smartphone application is being developed to help drivers anticipate just that situation and direct them to alternative parking spots.

Smart City Parking is being developed jointly by researchers from automotive supplier Continental, A*Star's Institute for Infocomm Research and the Technical University of Munich's Create centre here (TUM-Create).

"If you are heading to the city, it's hard to know if there are available lots," said TUM-Create researcher Daniel Zehe.

"This app gives you options for parking."

The voice-activated app gives drivers information like parking rates, the number of available spaces and alternatives nearby.

If the suggested option is too expensive, motorists just have to tell the app that and they will instantly be given a cheaper choice, with the app tapping into a publicly available Land Transport Authority database.

Mr Zehe said development of the app began in August and it is in the prototype stage.

It is the first of three projects being developed by the three-party group. The other two remain under wraps for now.

The managing director of Continental Singapore, Mr Lo Kien Foh, who was speaking at the launch of the company's expanded research and development facility here, said there are plans to commercialise the parking application within the next year or so. It is part of Continental's bid to put driverless cars on the road by 2025 - an idea which could also undergo trials here.

"If you're talking about autonomous driving, it is not just about the car, it's about the whole infrastructure (to support it)," he said.

"You can't expect the car to just drive by itself, the car has to be so intelligent that it knows what is happening 100m away - and it does that through backend systems that feed it information."

Communications executive Christopher Sim, 25, said the app could ease parking woes in town.

"If the app could recommend normally overlooked locations like Far East Shopping Centre, it would definitely be useful," he said.

dansonc@sph.com.sg