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Parking (yes, parking) has never been more important to the world than it is today. 20 years ago, one would have considered it improbable that parking would be vital to accomplishing weighty goals like fighting climate change or achieving political equality. 

But with the capabilities that are increasingly being made available through smart parking innovations, it’s looking more likely that smart parking may help save the world. 

Research indicates that more than 1 million barrels of oil is consumed every day in the search for parking spaces. More than 44% of drivers find parking a stressful experience and the average driver spends 4 days every year looking for spaces to park. 

All of this adds up to unnecessary congestion on roads and depletion of valuable real estate to construct more parking spaces. It also does nothing to stall the inexorable march towards global warming. 

However, as we’ll show in this article, recent innovations in smart parking may be changing that narrative. We may not know it yet, but parking may yet save the world. Here are 10 smart parking innovations to look out for in 2020. 

#1: Automated valet parking robots 

Although AI has been touted to do everything from steal your job to help you live forever, you probably never thought it’d be offering valet services. But that’s exactly what automated valet parking robots are created to do. 

The automated parking system functions by using robots to pick up cars and park them more efficiently in a traditional parking space. The system was installed at the Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport in 2018. 

Here’s how it works. Passengers book a parking space on the airport website and then drop their vehicles off in a dedicated cabin. The valet robot then picks up the vehicle and parks it in a secure parking lot. By eliminating the need for spaces between cars that is necessary with human parking, the robot can more efficiently manage parking spaces. 

In addition to this, picking up your car is as much of a breeze. Just head on down to one of the dedicated cabins on returning from your trip to recover your vehicle for your drive home. 

#2: Car Parking lifts

Slightly related to the automated valet innovation is the idea to use car parking lifts to manage parking space. The system, which is already going mainstream, functions by “stacking” vehicles one over the other. 

It works by using mechanical lifts to stack vehicles in the available overhead space, enabling use of volume instead of space as is done with traditional parking systems. This ensures that more vehicles can occupy the exact same parking space and these can be stacked two, or even up to three, at a time. 

The car parking lift system was famously used in a West Hollywood development to save about 7,000 square foot of prime real estate. The system also works perfectly well for commercial and residential purposes. So, even people with tiny, single-car garages can utilize this innovation to park more vehicles in limited space. 

#3: Robot car parks

Robotic car park innovations allow drivers access an entire robotics-powered system that makes car parking available at the touch of a button. While designs generally differ around the world, these systems consist of a combination of slabs, lifts, shelves and automated ramps. All of these are controlled using a computerized system that parks and then delivers cars as requested.a 

Although they are somewhat similar to automated valet robots, their difference is the warehouse-style, on-demand parking that they provide. These systems maximize space and parking time while ensuring that vehicles can be made available within minutes when the owner calls. 

#4: Smart Parking sensors 

Perhaps the superstar of parking innovation, smart parking sensors are disrupting parking in modern cities across the world. They implement Internet of Things capabilities to provide real-time, almost boundless smart parking and traffic advantages. 

These sensors are directly responsible for significantly cutting down on the time that drivers spend searching for parking spots. The sensors communicate in real time with a Parking-Routing-Information-System (PRIS) to guide drivers to available parking spaces. 

For instance, Parkeagle’s sensors are capable of counting the vehicles at a large parking facility and determining which parking spaces are available. It then communicates this information to the ParkSmart app in real-time. With this innovation, it is now possible to adequately manage parking-caused congestion and reduce overall emissions. 

#5: Pay by Plate payment method for parking 

Forget about parking meters, pay by plate technology is the new way to manage parking payments in urban centers around the world. With all the function of parking meters and several cool features added on top, there are many reasons why pay by plate technology is gaining ground. 

The technology allows drivers to pay for parking spaces by simply punching their license plate number into a parking kiosk, then paying by credit card or cash. They can reserve the space for as long as they want upfront and if they need to renew, they can do this remotely by app. No need to come running back to your vehicle just to renew your one-hour reservation.  

If the vehicle owner has to move to a new space for any reason, they don’t lose their payment. Enforcement too is much easier as officials can simply scan a plate, see if it is parked legally, and move on or print a ticket. 

The system was implemented in Pittsburgh in 2012 and since then, the city has reported increased parking revenue. At the same time, there has been a huge decline in the number of tickets issued as fewer drivers are in default since payment is easy and stress-free. 

#6: 3D parking design and signaling

3D design and signaling are shaping the use of innovative technologies like parking aid. The technology, offered by Bosch, uses sensors integrated into the vehicle’s bumper to sense and signal course adjustments and obstacles to the driver. 

It does this either with a high-pitched sound that increases in pitch as the vehicle nears obstacles, or by use of a 3D model of the vehicle’s environment. This ensures access to inch-perfect parking in situations where every inch counts. 

In 2020, we can look forward to the technology, which is already included in several modern car and sports vehicle designs, being integrated with other parking solutions. 

#7: Pollution based parking fees 

For cities struggling with pollution and high emissions figures, pollution-based parking fees have emerged as a great way to save the planet. To encourage cleaner cars and improve air quality, the system imposes parking fees based on a car’s estimated environmental impact. 

The most environmentally-friendly vehicles such as electrics, hybrids and fuel-efficient cars enjoy a discount while “dirtier” cars pay a surcharge. The system was introduced in Madrid in 2004 in a bid to reduce the city’s carbon footprint. 

Under the system hybrids enjoy a 20% discount on parking fees while electrics park for free. On the other end of the spectrum, diesel cars made in 2001 will pay up to 20% extra. The system has also been introduced in London

#8: Length based parking fees 

This innovation based parking fees on the length of vehicles. The rationale is that if smaller vehicles were to park in the space used by longer vehicles, more cars would be able to utilize the same space. 

And since longer and larger vehicles are generally more expensive, you should be able to pay higher parking fees for your tastes. The system introduces a democratic measure to make drivers pay for how much space they are using, and not just how long they are using it. 

This way, people have incentives to invest in smaller cars, just as pollution based parking incentivizes cleaner vehicles. 

#9: Resident rates for parking fees 

The goal of this innovation is to protect neighborhood parking by introducing a system that favors local parking in a defined area. A common problem in tourist locations is the constant struggle between locals and visitors for the use of public amenities like parking. 

Residential parking introduces much lower rates for residents, compared to tourists. The rationale? Residents already pay taxes to maintain streets and even parking enforcement. So, they should be entitled to enjoy the parking amenities a little bit more. 

When the system was introduced in Miami Beach, residents were charged a lower meter rate of $1 an hour, while tourists paid $1.75 for the same hour. 

#10: Wireless charging on parking spots 

If you already own an electric vehicle, you’ll be excited about this one. Nobody likes dealing with unending coils of cables, and we’re sure electric car owners are no different. 

With recent innovations in wireless charging, you can finally say goodbye to cords for good. Several wireless charging solutions were already available in 2019, and with vendors like Plugless, you can even enjoy wireless charging at your favorite parking spots or while on the go.  

The charging solutions, usually referred to as wireless level 2 charging, utilize 240-volt outlets that can be placed anywhere. The outlet is connected to a charging pad that sits beneath the vehicle and once in place, the vehicle charges itself. With the increasing rise in purchase of electric vehicles, wireless charging will only get more popular. 


So there you have it. These are the 10 parking innovations 2020 are certain to change the face of parking this year. Have any questions? Please get in touch. 

Thanks for reading!

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