SBIR Phase I: Parking Assistant Software for Smart-phones and Car Navigation Systems

Period of Performance: 01/01/2013 - 12/31/2013


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Pirouette Software Consulting
1030 N. State St., Suite 40C
Chicago, IL 60610
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will study the feasibility of 1) crowd-sourcing smart-phones about street parking availability, and 2) navigating a driver to an available parking slot. The innovation is the Intelligent Parking Assistant (IPA), a software application that runs on smart phones and car navigation systems, and guides a driver to a parking slot similarly to a Car Navigation System (CNS) that guides her to the destination. The IPA consists of two subsystems, a Parking Detector (PD) and a Parking Navigator (PN). PD automatically estimates the average number of parking slots on city blocks. It uses a novel method that builds a historical profile of parking availability on each city block, and combines it with real-time information from smart phones. In contrast, existing solutions that detect parking availability either use specialized expensive sensors, or require manual input. PN guides the driver through a path where she is most likely to compete effectively for parking. PN uses a novel Gravity-based Parking Algorithm, developed using game-theory to address the competitive aspect. The proposed project will be successful if parking time reduction and energy consumption reach specified targets. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project lies in reducing the time for finding parking in urban areas. Parking is a major hassle in urban transportation. Studies conducted in 11 major cities reveal that the average time searching for curbside parking was 8.1 minutes and cruising for these parking slots accounted for 30% of the traffic congestion in those cities. Each parking slot generates at least 1,825 vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per year. Thus, in a city like Chicago with over 35,000 curbside slots, cruising for parking generates 63 million VMT. This wastes over 3.1 million gallons of gasoline and produces over 48,000 tons of CO2 emissions. The IPA reduces parking search by providing drivers with real-time information and guidance through mobile, wirelessly connected computing devices such as smart-phones. The IPA will be initially marketed as a phone app. The parking availability data needed for bootstrapping the IPA usage will be obtained from local municipalities. In its research and development the company will focus on street-parking. The innovation stems from the NSF IGERT award 0549489.