Image recognition app helps long-haul truckers find parking

Image recognition app helps long-haul truckers find parking

For most drivers, parking is mix of proximity and availability, but for long-haul truckers an appropriate parking space is hard to come by. According to a Department of Transportation survey, 75 percent of truckers say they regularly have trouble finding a safe place to park in order to sleep.  As a result, some drivers park on the shoulder of a highway or on off-ramps, creating safety concerns, while others keep driving in violation of hours of service regulations.

In an effort to give truckers more information on available parking, researchers at the University of Minnesota are using cameras and image processing software to monitor parking spaces at truck stops in the state and provide a real-time assessment of available spaces, according to a report in Wired.  The project, originally launched in Minnesota in 2013 and funded by the Federal Highway Administration, is being expanded in the hopes of being installed throughout Minnesota and seven other Midwestern states.

The pilot uses cameras placed above parking lots and rest stops. Image recognition software scans the images to identify vacant spaces in all kinds of weather and lighting conditions. A computer then transmits the information to signs posted along the highway, although the trucking industry is searching for ways to easily transmit this information to drivers without using smartphones.

A nationwide deployment of such a system could help prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “driver non-performance,” which includes falling asleep at the wheel, played a role in 12 percent of truck accidents between 2001 and 2003, Wired reported.

About the Author

Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.

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