Since a few months back, the city Milton Keynes north of London has become noticeably smarter. Rubbish bins are already telling when or if they need to be emptied and in the medium term, all kinds of items will start communicating - everything from mousetraps and soap dispensers in public toilets to meters for water, gas and heating.
And parking lots. In Milton Keynes drivers will not only find the correct address with the car or smartphone navigation systems. It will instead show the parking lot closest to the address you specify. Approximately 1,000 parking spaces in Milton Keynes will be equipped with tiny sensors and transmitters reminiscent of cat eyes. These detect radio waves around them and these waves are blocked when a car stands above the sensor. The parking place is thus busy.
When the radio waves freely reach the small unit on a vacant parking lot, the data is sent to a central server, which is connected to Milton Keynes central website. The website, via Google Maps, shows all the available parking spaces in real-time and it is this information that is now integrated into the navigation systems.
But this is not enough for Milton Keynes. The next step is to introduce a kind of driver-less car, which in the first phase are to take passengers from the railway to a popular shopping center which is a 20-minute-walk away, uphill.
Vince Cable, who is responsible for the project, told The Guardian that the cars are being equipped with sensors to detect objects in the environment.
- They will not drive faster than about 20 km/h, so no need to worry about unruly fast cars.
The two projects have the same goal - to reduce the traffic chaos that almost all cities suffer from. The driver-less cars reduce the need for cars and encourage people to take the train instead. The connected car parks reduce unnecessary traffic when desperate drivers drive around the city looking for a parking lot.
In Cognizant’s report "Exploring the Connected Car", there are more examples of how the cars of the future can interact with the outside world.