Students Kicking Manual Parking to the Curb

Finding a parking spot before class might be a little easier thanks to Florida A&M graduate students Sihle Wilson and Ronald Benson.

The name of the project is the FAMU valet parking technology. Its purpose is to make the self-parking car a reality.

Benson and Silhe are both software engineering students. The two have worked as a team to create a prototype to start testing the product.

“We started working on the project and it became eventually became our thesis,” said Wilson, a software engineering graduate student from Claxton Bay, Trinidad and Tobago.

There are other cars on the market that already have the ability to park themselves, such as the Ford Focus.

But the FAMU valet technology can pick up or drop off the driver.

“You can actually just let your car just drop you off,” said Wilson.

The project also incorporates artificial technology, which allows the car to learn and follow commands. This will allow the car to navigate more efficiently and make use of shortcuts and alternate routes.

The valet is run off a phone application, which would be available through the Android Operating System. The app features options to command the car to pick up the driver, valet park, track the vehicle and “teach and share.”

With the sharing component of the app, users would be able to share routes and shortcuts with other users who have the app.

“We were thinking about a smart car and how we could make a smart car smarter,” said Benson.

The idea for the project was realized when Wilson was taking a class taught by the duo’s adviser Jason Black during her junior year. She said she did not understand his field of study, but had an idea that might work.

Black said he hopes to see the finished product take off.

“I see this being a viable product,” said Black, associate professor in the Department of Computer Information Sciences.

The inventors of the FAMU valet technology have already talked to Ford about trying to implement the new technology.

Black said Ford is already working on a similar project with another university and didn’t want to take on two universities at one time.

The inventors have already received a provisional patent that will protect their ideas until next summer. They are working with the Office of Technology Transfer to help get their product ommercialized.

According to Benson and Wilson, the product could be available to the general public in the next five to ten years.

“Parts of this project can stand alone as their own patents,” said Wilson.