RFID-based cashless car-parking system developed


August 2, 2011

The VIATAG system's RFID transponders allow drivers to use car parks without having to make cash payments each time

The VIATAG system's RFID transponders allow drivers to use car parks without having to make cash payments each time

Car parks can be a hassle - you have to roll down your car window and reach out to get a ticket from the dispenser on the way in, and then have to reach over and pay the cashier on the way out. The engineers at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics, however, have come up with something easier. They've developed an RFID (radio-frequency identification) tag system that allows drivers to pass unimpeded in and out of car parks, with parking fees being automatically deducted from an online account.

The system, which is called VIATAG, was designed for Munich's motionID technologies.

Vehicles using the technology have an adhesive foil RFID chip transponder, mounted on the inside of their windshield. The device measures just 1.5 by 10 centimeters (0.5 by 4 inches). Readers located above the entrances and exits of the car park emit an electromagnetic field, which provides power to the transponder. It transmits its vehicle's unique 12-digit code to the reader, in the ultra-high frequency (UHF) range - the distance between transponder and reader can be up to eight meters (26.25 feet).

By noting the times at which each vehicle enters and leaves the car park, a central database is able to keep track of how much parking time they have used. At the end of each month, the total amount owing is automatically paid online by direct withdrawal.

No personal data is stored on the chip, and its 12-digit code is encrypted. Should a thief wish to steal it anyway, the device becomes unusable when removed from the windshield.

After being field tested for several weeks, VIATAG is now in use in car parks in the cities of Essen, Duisburg and Munich. The Fraunhofer researchers believe the system could also be useful in locations such as highway toll booths, gas stations, car washes, and car rental agencies. Australia's Queensland Motorways, in fact, is presently introducing the system for paying toll fees.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Huh? It\'s no longer even possible to pay cash for the toll when you cross the Harbour Bridge in Sydney - Etags have been the only way to go for years. Did this article somehow fall out of the archives from a decade ago?

Marcus Carr

Yes, it\'s a good idea to apply this to car parks, but I can\'t see what\'s new about this item. I live in Bristol, UK, and the Severn Bridge TAG system has been operating for quite a while....

Jonathan Jenkins

This is common in Portuguese Cities since last decade... It is really not that inovative

Rui Correia

A similar system has been in use for some time in Florida for the turnpike system and for parking at airports and other municipal places.


in portugal we have been paying tolls in hiway like this since 1991, in the gas station we have been paying gas like this for since 2002and in car parks since 2004, all with the same tag


Although the system in Portugal uses a small radio transmitter powered by batteries, not RFID, the idea is essentially the same. Also, the University of Macau adopted a system exactly like this quite a few years ago, and that one I\'m certain that it uses RFID tags.

Tozé Soares

I believe this system will be replaced soon by intercomunication systems already available in some cars, connected to the cell phone. On arriving at or leaving, just make access to the parking system with the touch screen to order release and debit in your current account. The encrypted message system will be in charge of accessing your account, discounting the value and releasing access.

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