New technology being piloted by Audi could mean that in future it won’t be necessary to go through the rigmarole of grabbing a ticket on entry to a car park, keeping that ticket safe until departure and then fumbling for loose change or cards for parking payment with children and shopping potentially in tow.
Through the ‘Audi connect wireless payment’ scheme a communication link is established between cars and car parks, enabling barriers to be raised and charges to be paid without drivers needing to lift a finger.
The trial phase for Audi connect wireless payment is currently getting under way in the home of the Vorsprung durch Technik brand’s headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany. The wide-ranging pilot project will involve up to 13,000 connected test cars, and is the first step towards possible full integration of the service for Audi owners of the future. The long-term aim is to establish wireless payment as another useful element of the Audi connect option, which already brings internet-based services such as Google Earth, Google Street View, local fuel pricing, news and weather information to Audi models.
During the trial phase, each car will communicate with the parking facilities via an individual RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) transmitter, the number of which is entered into an online portal by each driver to register for the service. The wireless transponder providing the link with each car is mounted on the inside of the windscreen.
The Ingolstadt Economic Development Agency (IFG Ingolstadt) provides the service. It operates nine car parks and underground parking garages in the city, with a total of 6,200 spaces and 21 entrances and exits. The trial participants will receive a monthly bill from IFG detailing any parking charges incurred. The amount is then debited from the user’s account by means of a direct debit mandate.
All Audi AG employees who lease a new car in the coming months will be able to participate in the trial. When their car is handed over, they will receive the “Audi connect wireless payment starter kit”, including a wireless tag.
Wireless payment, driverless parking
This latest move to minimise inconvenience in the daily driving routines of Audi owners follows closely behind another parking aid shown earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas – Audi piloted parking.
Also still at the prototype stage, this advanced system is again based on a wireless connection between the car and the car park, but this time enables the car to find the nearest parking space and to guide itself autonomously to that space and park.
The driver activates the futuristic technology with the aid of a smartphone app. The car park’s central computer takes over part of the control function and guides the vehicle via a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) connection to the nearest available parking space. External laser sensors record the vehicle’s movements and this data is processed by the car park’s computer to pinpoint the vehicle.
The central computer also has a map of the car park layout and records parking space occupancy. This information is transmitted to the vehicle, enabling it to drive itself from the starting point to its destination. The vehicle monitors its surroundings using twelve ultrasound sensors, which also help to guide it autonomously into the parking space or the garage under the driver’s supervision. Once it has reached its final position, it shuts off the engine, deactivates the ignition and locks the doors before finally sending a confirmation to the driver.