I don't want to pay to park my car somewhere. You don't want to pay to park your car somewhere. No one does. The fact is, if you're in a busy city, there's almost no way around it. You could do u-turns for hours, patrolling side streets for an empty spot without a meter. If one does happen to become vacant, the chances of you being there in time to claim it are basically zero. A project in progress at Universitat Autòma de Barcelona in Spain aims to eliminate some of the frustration that normally accompanies this parking ritual.

While it can't guarantee you an open spot, it will certainly improve your chances of finding one. A research team at the university has developed a package call XALOC, which monitors free parking spaces in public areas, and notifies participants of their availability. What's even better, is that XALOC can guide the driver to the spot via a visual navigation system similar (but apparently superior) to GPS.

Here's how it works: Wireless sensors are installed on the road surface in each parking spot. These sensors know if the spots are taken or empty and they keep an internet-hosted database up to date with live statistics. The collective information is delivered to screens scattered throughout the area.

Individual drivers also have the option to use a personal system to communicate with XALOC. It will locate the driver's vehicle, pick the best spot, and provide directions.

I won't take a guess at how much a personal XALOC device would cost, but I would venture a guess that it could pay for itself rather quickly for drivers accustomed to settling for metered parking on a regular basis. I'm thinking a measurable reduction in road-rage could be a pleasant side-effect too!

[XALOC via Gizmag]