Inspur Information and the Tokyo Institute of Technology Make Parking Smarter Using AI and Edge Computing

29 October 2021

Inspur Information and the Tokyo Institute of Technology announced a collaboration to build a smart parking system using edge computing. The parking system uses Inspur Information’s EIS200 edge computing microserver, and represents a new advancement in building smart cities.

Parking is a major challenge in urban development. It can cause a cascade of issue impacting traffic flow throughout the entire city. A vehicle looking for roadside parking can have up to five times the impact on traffic congestion compared to a regularly moving vehicle. This not only increases traffic, but also introduces serious safety risks.

U.S. drivers spend an average of 17 hours each year looking for parking; in the UK, the average is 44 hours. The amount of time wasted looking for parking is even greater in mega-cities like New York and London.

Surprisingly, the solution to this parking problem is not building more parking spaces. The supply of urban parking is relatively sufficient: there are a billion parking spots across the United States, four for every car in existence. So the issue is not having more parking spaces; it is about managing and configuring the parking spaces you already have more effectively.

With a population of 37.5 million, Tokyo is a worldwide model for efficient vehicle management. It has about 8 million vehicles – double the number of the New York City – but Tokyo's parking difficulties and traffic jams are relatively minor compared to other international mega-cities. Tokyo has succeeded by formulating a scientific approach to vehicle management that continuously optimizes parking via space maximizing parking lot design, electronic vehicle management, and other systems.

Traditional parking management systems rely on human attendants and basic monitoring equipment. This arrangement has a very low performance ceiling. Improving on this with a more intelligent parking management system requires advanced technologies such as AI and edge computing.

The Tokyo Institute of Technology and other scientific research organizations have collaborated with Inspur Information to explore enhanced parking management using AI, edge computing, and other technologies. Together, this collaboration will enable drivers to find parking faster and safer than ever before while also reducing parking construction and operation costs by 40%. How is this achieved?

The Tokyo Institute of Technology built an “AI butler”

To improve the utilization rate of parking spaces and reduce the costs associated with parking lot construction and operation, the Tokyo Institute of Technology developed an AI butler – an intelligent parking system based on edge computing and using cameras as an alternative to traditional systems that detect vehicles using ground sensing coils.

To run this AI butler, Inspur Information’s EIS200 edge computing microserver is deployed at the parking lot location. Based on image recognition and the parking lot operation management system developed by the Tokyo Institute of Technology, the microserver uses cameras at the entrance and interior of the parking lot structure to collects and processes images of incoming and outgoing vehicles, including their license plate numbers and matches the data against real-time vehicle owner identification information. It then accurately records the entry and exit times for each vehicle, allowing the system to provide parking guidance to newly arriving vehicles

The system can help vehicle owners accurately locate their vehicles to expedite departures and supports fast, cashless payments with code-scanning or cash paymentsTo improve parking lot safety, the AI butler can automatically sound alarms when its camera system detects suspicious behavior or events including smoke or fire.

This past January, the Tokyo Institute of Technology established the start-up company Fusion Cubic Co., Ltd. to commercialize its parking research. Fusion Cubic is currently piloting smart parking lots in multiple busy Tokyo business districts. This pilot program is showcasing improvements in efficiency and convenience of finding parking spaces and paying parking fees, while significantly alleviating peak period traffic congestion caused by slow parking fee transactions.

Simultaneously, this smart parking solution also helps parking facility management enjoy the benefits of automation and intelligence. Expenditures are reduced not only in human resources but also in the construction, testing, and maintenance of the ground induction coil systems previously used for vehicle detection. These improvements save over 40% of the costs of constructing and operating parking facilities

Edge computing improves the driver experience

The Tokyo Institute of Technology's smart parking lot projects demonstrate the great value and potential of smart parking systemsData shows that global parking management was valued at US$3.8 billion in 2020, with expected growth to US$5.4 billion by 2025 with smart city construction being the driving force for that growth. At present, only a small number of parking facilities around the world have undergone smart transformations.

Compared with cloud-only models, edge computing's key distinction is delivering AI applications with lower costs, easier implementation, and less network dependency. This will accelerate the implementation of smart parking systems

In the future, we expect to see more cities benefit from Inspur Information's AI and edge computing parking solutions. Drivers will enjoy a more efficient and convenient parking experience, parking management will become easier and more profitable, and city managers will be have reduced concerns regarding traffic. Cities will be one step closer to becoming truly intelligent digital cities.