Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Parking Spot Indicator Light

Light indicates whether spot is available
  (+4, -1)
(+4, -1)
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When driving on a packed parking lot, one can seldom see spots more than 5 cars ahead. We could have light bulbs behind the parking spots, a light for each spot. If a spot is available, its light is on. If it is taken, the light is off. This could be accomplished by weight or light sensors on the pavement.

On a packed lot, you won't have a lot of lights on. So you can easily see whether there is a spot in a particular row or not. It saves you the work of driving through to scan all the spots.

GusLacerda, Mar 22 2001


       In a packed lot, this means instead of the nearest 2 or 3 people rushing for the spot, you'll have around 15-20. Thanks, but on a busy day, parking lots are dangerous enough!
Wes, Mar 22 2001

       Some of the car parks here in Geneva have just such a system. There are overhead signs that tell you which floors contain free spaces and then which aisles do too. There is also a little green light over every bay which is lit if it is free. Not sure what sort of sensor is used. Wes is correct, in that on one or two occaisions I have followed the "libre" signs only to find no space and when I eventually come back to the original sign, it now reads "complet": someone got there before me. Apart from this odd hiccup it works pretty well. So before PeterSealy gets up: Baked
Gordon Comstock, Mar 22 2001

       Gordon Comstock: The idea was to have the light right above the parking spot. So, if somebody gets there before you do, you will see the light go off before you get there.
GusLacerda, Mar 22 2001

       Or, take a ticket when you enter that shows the location of the nearest blank spot (which is now reserved for you); when you leave, you give them the ticket (and pay, if necessary), which frees up your spot. (When you take the ticket, you might want to indicate any special conditions, like "disabled" or "big-ass monster truck" or "motorcycle". Perhaps you could even opt to pay more for a better spot, less for a less-convenient spot.)   

       That way you don't need expensive sensors and tricky lights, nobody ever fights for a position, and you can take the ticket with you to help you remember where you parked your car.
egnor, Mar 22 2001

       neat-o, egnor! That is a really good idea! But, what do you do about drivers that take >1/vehicle? Or lost tickets? There would have to be an automated way to audit which spaces actually are taken as opposed to those that merely have tickets outstanding. Mayhap a daily space audit?
absterge, Mar 22 2001

       You wouldn't need sensors for egnor's method though... just put the tickets in the machine in order, from closest spot to furthest. Then, as people turn in tickets, place them back in the machine in the appropriate order. This sounds quite bakeable, as the only possible modifications would be to the ticket machine.   

       The only possible problem I see is if a person takes a spot other than the one assigned to them, for whatever reason. Maybe an attendant or two to keep an eye on things would be a good idea.
PotatoStew, Mar 22 2001

       The initial idea was cool and provided a pretty funny visual, but you guys are killing me with the parking-spot-indicator streamlining and revamping annotations.   

       I mean, are you really THAT anxious to know exactly when and where you'll find a parking spot? Please.
iuvare, Mar 22 2001, last modified Mar 23 2001

       I absolutely HATE driving around looking for a parking spot. It's one of my least favorite things. So I would be all for anything that would reduce that.
PotatoStew, Mar 22 2001

       A simpler Idea: put bright, directed lights in the middle of each spot. When a vehicle occupies the spot, the beam is blocked, when the spot is free, the light can be easily seen. Bonus: oily puddles result in nifty psychadelic light shows.
nick_n_uit, Mar 23 2001

       I'm sure the French have been using a system like this for years, invented by a M. Pluminee.   

Scotty, Mar 23 2001

       Notice, UnaBubba, I had said *one* of my least favorite things. There's still plenty of room for you. ;)   

       nick_n_uit: I like your version of the idea, but I wonder how well it would work in the daytime...
PotatoStew, Mar 23 2001


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