Meter Maven is the name given to our project for our senior projects course. This project actually has its own website, so I won’t bother going into too much detail here. You should definitely check out the website, though, as it’s filled with all sorts of technical information and additional media.
The Meter Maven project is a solar-powered wireless parking meter network. The basic goal of the system is to make parking enforcement more efficient while also making it easier for drivers to locate vacant parking spaces. The meters are designed to be completely wireless so that they can be easily deployed without the need for a wired infrastructure for power or networking. Each meter is equipped with an ultrasonic sensor to detect vehicle presence, an XBee wireless radio to relay status and administrative updates, a smart card reader to accept payment electronically, an LCD and buttons for user interface, and a solar panel with charger and battery for power. An Atmel ATMEGA644P microcontroller ties all of the components together.
The vehicle detection and the wireless networking functionality combine to provide plenty of useful data to a base station. The base station then hosts two different interfaces. An administrative interface allows parking enforcement officials to see which parking spots have been occupied and for how long. It also highlights which meters are currently in an expired state with a vehicle present. In addition, the administrative interface allows the parking enforcement group to set the price on each meter (or all meters), as well as set the time of day during which the meter should be active.
The base station also hosts a web frontend that can be used by smartphone-equipped motorists seeking an available parking space. The web interface makes it compatible with most mobile devices, and displays a user-friendly map of all of the parking spaces within a region along with their current occupancy/vacancy status.
The Meter Maven project was awarded 2nd prize in the 10th annual RIT IEEE Student Design Contest (yielding a handsome $4000 prize to split among the three of us on the team). The project was presented to and evaluated by a panel of IEEE members from industry sponsors including Fairchild semiconductor. Our project was one of over 20 that were accepted from several schools in the northeast and Canada.