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August 18, 2022

How can AI help optimize smart parking?


Artur Haponik

CEO & Co-Founder

Reading time:

11 minutes

There are almost two billion parking lots in the US and only 256 million vehicles [1]. Despite this fact, the average American spends 17 hours a year looking for a parking spot, resulting in up to $345 in losses due to fuel consumption and time wastage [2]. The parking lot problem in the US has become so severe that most traffic jams are a result of people circling around looking for a parking spot [3]. When you do manage to find one, you still have to deal with the issue of irregularly parked cars, which increases the chances of parking lot accidents tremendously. Read on to learn more about the role of AI in optimizing smart parking, from the technologies implemented to how they impact the way we park.

Like with other sectors, cities and parking lot managers are turning to technology to curb this issue. Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) play a major role in equipping drivers with real-time information about the location of available parking spots.

What is AI-based smart parking?

AI-based smart parking is an innovative parking solution that leverages data from different devices like sensors and cameras to form an AI-driven parking management system. These devices are either embedded into the parking lot or placed in close proximity to the parking lot to detect the availability of parking spots.

They then relay collected data to software connected to different IoT devices that communicate the availability of parking spots to users. In addition to parking spot availability, drivers also get other useful information like parking pricing. Some companies also allow drivers to make reservations or pay from their e-wallets, thus making the process even more convenient.

Read more about Artificial intelligence in self-driving cars

Technologies bolstering smart parking

Computer vision

As the name suggests, computer vision utilizes data collected from parking lot cameras to identify available parking spots. Most of these technologies typically work by identifying the markings on an empty parking lot and confirming their findings using geometric data to give more accurate findings.

A good example of this technology is the Harris Corner Detector (HCD)[4]. The HCD uses panoramic images to detect individual parking spots’ corners and dimensions. It then automatically assigns the free parking spots to vehicles that match their dimensions.

Deep learning

Deep learning is a machine learning capability based on comprehensive exposure to parking data that’s been picked up by AI neural networks. Like humans, these systems learn from experience – the more data they collect and utilize, the more accurate they get.

In addition to determining the availability of parking spots, deep learning smart parking technologies can also use collected data to calculate peak and off-peak parking hours, determine occupancy patterns, and implement a dynamic pricing system.

Ground sensors

Ground sensors use radar technology to determine the availability of a parking spot. These sensors are placed in strategic areas across the parking lot floor. When a car passes above the sensor, it sends the data to a parking lot management system, which then marks the space as occupied.

ground parking sensors, road

Parking counter systems

These legacy smart parking technologies typically work by counting the number of vehicles entering or exiting a parking lot [5]. Due to their relatively ‘narrow view’ of the parking lot, they are mostly used in structured and enclosed parking lots with limited points of entry. However, data collected from these systems can help businesses optimize their parking lot operations.

Benefits of AI-based smart parking for drivers

Recent increments in car ownership and urbanization, coupled with poor city planning, have contributed greatly to the rising parking problems across the US[6]. Fortunately, the adoption of AI in smart parking has completely revolutionized how we look for parking spaces. Here are a few advantages of smart parking for drivers and business owners.

Less fuel consumption

Driving around looking for a parking space consumes a lot of fuel. And considering the current fuel prices, that’s a lot of money going down the drain. Smart parking solutions provide easy access to parking spots, thereby saving precious resources such as time, fuel, and space.

A reduction of search traffic on the streets

Nearly a third of traffic in urban areas is created by drivers looking for a parking spot. By leveraging AI-based smart parking solutions, municipalities can manage and reduce search traffic on busy streets. Smart parking solutions not only minimize search traffic but also smoothen traffic flow. The result? People spend less time looking for a parking spot since they already know where to get one.

road traffic, traffic jams, ai-based smart parking

Reduced parking stress

Looking for a good parking spot in a congested part of the city is simply overwhelming. You might find yourself driving across the same street several times, only to end up parking far away from your destination.

AI-based smart parking solutions incorporate smart parking technologies with IoT devices so drivers can find parking spots easily using their smartphones and computers. This way, they can see all parking spots available in the area they plan to travel to long before they get there. Some parking lots even allow you to reserve a space. This means you don’t have to drive around looking for a space to park.

Benefits of AI-based smart parking for businesses

Surface parking lots take up 5% of all urban land in the US [7]. This means more competition among parking lot businesses. You’d think parking lots around busy streets get a lot of business, but sadly, that’s not the case. In most cases, drivers can’t find these parking lots, and when they do, there are tons of irregularly parked cars, making the parking lot inefficient.

The result is that some drivers opt to drive longer distances for safer and more accessible parking lots, which means less business for the better-situated but poorly managed parking lots. Fortunately, by incorporating smart parking solutions in their management process, parking lot managers can improve their lots’ efficiency, boost customer satisfaction and ultimately boost profits. Here are a few other benefits parking lot businesses stand to gain from leveraging smart parking solutions.

Improved parking experience

AI-based smart parking solutions leverage collected data to provide specialized services that ultimately lead to stress-free parking experiences. Besides letting nearby drivers know if there are available spots in the parking lot, managers can also install digital signs that receive real-time data from parking lot management software to direct drivers to their parking spots.
This eliminates frustration among drivers trying to find a spot within the parking lot, thus improving customer satisfaction.

AI-based smart parking, cars

Also, the mere fact that drivers don’t have to drive around the parking looking for a free space means fewer emissions, which could improve the air quality in indoor parking lots.

Pinpoint inefficiencies in parking lot management

Managing a parking lot takes a lot of work. For instance, parking lot managers often have to check the parking duration of certain vehicles or deal with irregularly and illegally parked vehicles. By leveraging real-time information from connected on-site devices, they can accurately determine the parking duration of all vehicles.

This comes in handy, especially in parking lots offering short-time parking services like supermarkets. With this data, the managers can monitor excessive parking durations, which in most cases imply unauthorized use of their parking areas. They can also monitor spaces that stay empty for extended periods, which could imply an issue with the spot in question.

Optimized usage of the facility

Through data collected from various sensors installed around the streets and parking lot, businesses can monitor which areas have the highest and lowest parking traffic. With this data, they can better determine where to expand or cut back operations. Sensor data also enables businesses to monitor misuse of emergency access roads and dedicated parking spots.

Possible drawbacks of leveraging ai-based smart parking

Smart parking solutions present a lot of advantages for both drivers and businesses. But they also present a few drawbacks that might cause some people to put back or even avoid incorporating them altogether. Here are some of the drawbacks of incorporating smart parking solutions.

High cost of installation

Numerous systems and technologies go into building an effective smart parking lot management system. Things like sensors, cameras, automated ticketing machines, and software cost a lot of money to install. Unfortunately, some businesses can’t afford these systems, making it nearly impossible to incorporate the system.

woman, car service

Regular maintenance requirements

Despite being automated, smart parking management systems require regular maintenance to ensure smooth operation. The frequency of maintenance all comes down to the system in question, but most systems require monthly maintenance. This further racks up the running costs of the parking lot, which might have a significant impact on profits.

Trends impacting the future of smart parking

Many cities struggle with the fluctuations in the required number of parking lots. On the one hand, there are tons of empty parking spots spread across the city. On the other hand, areas close to busy streets and large establishments like supermarkets and hospitals struggle to get space for their visitors. So, to curb this issue, cities are implementing various technologies that could impact how we park our vehicles in the future. These include:

Automated parking lots

Automated parking lots are becoming increasingly popular in many parts of the world[8]. Unlike traditional parking methods, which require human intervention to get the car to the right parking spot, automated parking systems utilize machinery to lift and ‘park’ the vehicle.

These parking lots typically have a designated area where a driver leaves the vehicle. Sensors and lasers around the designated area scan and measure the vehicle’s weight before a moving platform elevates and transfers the vehicle to an empty parking space.

Besides making the parking process easier and more convenient for drivers, automated parking lots save a lot of space since they are built vertically. Also, the fact that the driver doesn’t need to exit the vehicle means that there are limited space requirements between cars, thus saving even more space.

Self-driving cars

Many cars already have a self-parking feature. These features enable drivers to park their vehicles automatically without necessarily being behind the wheel. The result is a streamlined parking process and better utilization of parking spaces.
Drivers who own vehicles without a safe parking feature can use the vehicle’s sensors to reverse and maneuver crowded parking lots confidently. That said, people who own classic cars and older models might have to modify their vehicles to get these features. But, once the practice becomes mainstream, we’re likely to see a tremendous increase in parking efficiency.

self-driving cars, autonomous, AI-based smart parking

The internet of things

The internet of things (IoT) basically means communication between different devices online. This remarkable technology has made notable contributions across numerous industries, and the parking sector is no exception.

IoT systems allow drivers to see available parking spaces in real-time through a website or app service. With this system, drivers can see all available parking spots long before they get there, thus significantly reducing the time taken to look for a parking spot[9].

The benefits of IoT in parking span beyond helping drivers look for parking spots. These systems also help businesses fill more parking spots and advertise their services across multiple apps and websites. They also reduce the number of carbon emissions that emanate from drivers driving around looking for a parking spot.


Artificial intelligence has revolutionized numerous industries, and the parking sector is no exception. With parking lot issues on the rise, optimization of smart parking with AI technologies seems to be the only solution to reduce the time it takes to find parking spaces and ultimately make the parking process more efficient.

As numerous cities across the US and other places around the world adopt these technologies, we’re likely to see a dramatic change in how we park and use space in urban areas.

[1] Strongtons. org. Parking Dominates Our Cities But do We Really See it?. URL: Accessed August 14, 2022
[2] Study Find Americans Waste 73 Billion Per Year Looking for a Parking Spot. URL: Accessed August 14, 2022
[3] 30 Percent of Traffic Cruising for Parking. URL: Accessed August 14, 2022
[4] Introduction to Harris Corner Detector. URL: Accessed August 14, 2022
[5] How Does a Car Park Counting System Work?. URL: Accessed August 14, 2022
[6] Cities Have a Parking Problem: More Parking is Not the Solution. URL: Accessed August 14, 2022
[7] Parking Dominates Our Cities But Do We Really See it? Accessed August 14, 2022
[8] Automatic Parking Systems. URL: Accessed August 14, 2022
[9] Accessed August 14, 2022


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