You're in a dense urban neighborhood, and you're looking for parking. You could circle for half an hour, swearing at the guy who stole the space you totally saw first, or you could rely on technology developed to explore Venus to nab a spot.
While parking might not sound like the concern of space agencies, France is literally using space-age technology to solve a mundane Earth-bound problem. The tech was originally developed to help balloons communicate with each other, as they floated through the clouds of Venus. The host balloons would have sensors that detect changes in the electromagnetic environment around them and send data to other balloons to help map the atmosphere.
The project was grounded due to budget cuts, though, so the tech was recycled into the pavement of France's fourth largest city, Toulouse, where the sensors are connected to one another under the pavement via coaxial cables.
The parking system is the work of a local start-up called Lyberta and the Centre Nationale d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), France's counterpart to NASA, which is also based in Toulouse. There are about 3,000 of the sensors, spaced about 9 inches apart beneath the pavement, and each can detect a parking spot within a little fewer than 1,000 feet. Together, they can pinpoint areas that have available parking. The data is then shared in real time via a free smartphone app that displays a green icon to indicate a free parking spot. … Read more