Cashless Parking Tested in Germany

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Finding a parking space is a pain (at least if you live in a city like San Francisco, New York or Boston). Once you get to the parking meter you have to make change. Using a parking garage means trusting your vehicle to the parking valet, or waiting in line behind other cars paying the attendant.

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Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany were likely as fed up as anyone else, so they came up with a cashless system based on radio frequency ID tags — the same technology used at automated toll booths. The system involves a computer chip stuck to a car’s windshield that uses a radio signal to transmit a 12-digit code unique to each vehicle to receivers on the ceiling of a parking garage. The garage ceiling receivers track when a car enters and exists and bills the driver accordingly — no attendant required. The system, called VIATAG, is being developed for MotionID Technologies and is being tested in three German cities — Essen, Munich and Duisburg.

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Fraunhofer says hacking isn’t a problem because the code doesn’t contain any personal information — it only identifies the car. In addition the RFID chip self-destructs if it is removed from the windshield. This does leave open the possibility of spoofing the car’s identifier, however, which might open a chance to avoid paying or possibly sticking someone else with the bill. We’ll see how the tests work out (and if anyone finds the hack at next year’s Black Hat confab).

Image: MotionID Technologies

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