Car park technology charges direct from drivers’ banks

Car parks could collect money directly from drivers’ bank accounts thanks to a new wireless payment system.

The technology, developed at the German Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics (IML), uses a microchip attached to the car windscreen to communicate with the car park’s computer, removing the need for tickets or cash or credit-card payments.

The VIATAG chip is part of a 10cm-long radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag that transmits the car’s details at ultra-high frequency to the payment system and is powered by the electromagnetic field of the reader device.

‘Waiting at the parking machine, searching for change, losing your ticket — all that is a thing of the past,’ said project manager Arnd Ciprina. ‘The car driver saves time and enjoys a more convenient service.’

car park
The VIATAG system uses radio-frequency identification to send information about the car to a central computer using a 12-digit code

Each chip has a 12-digit code to identify the car as it enters and leaves the car park, allowing fees to be charged automatically through a central database that users can view online. Payment is then collected once a month through direct debit.

‘No personal data is stored on the chip,’ said Ciprina. ‘The 12-digit code is encrypted so that third parties cannot connect the identification number with a user.’

Fraunhofer said in a statement that the sticker self-destructs if removed from the windshield, so thieves cannot steal it and use it.

The system should reduce the cost of recording and billing the parking time for car-park operators but can be used alongside existing systems.

VIATAG was developed for Munich-based MotionID Technologies and has passed initial practical tests and been installed in public car parks in Essen, Duisburg and Munich.

Researchers hope that technology could also be used by other car-related services such as petrol stations, vehicle hire firms and even drive-through restaurants.