City of Montreal Installs Wireless Parking Payment Stations
Solar-powered Devices Use Linux and JavaTM Technology
Linuxdevices.com reports that the City of Montreal will shortly introduce wireless solar-powered parking payment stations based on embedded Linux and application software using JavaTM technology and a JavaTM Virtual Machine (JVMTM software) from Sun. NOTE: The terms "Java Virtual Machine" and "JVM" mean a Virtual Machine for the Java platform.
The machines were developed by 8D Technologies of Quebec, which modified a machine manufactured in the 1980s by parking equipment manufacturer Cale, replacing the device's motherboard with 8D's electronic commerce or ECO device for wireless point-of-sales (POS) systems.
Each station replaces about 12 traditional parking meters, adding convenience features for drivers, meter maids and city parking officials alike. Customers can pay or add time, using coins or credit cards, from any payment station in the city, provided they remember the parking spot identification code marked on the panel in front of their parking spot.
Meter maids can cruise for violators using ruggedized Intermec handheld devices inside their vehicles. The devices have built-in city maps on which paid spots are green and unpaid spots are red.
Centralized control enables city officials to adjust rates on the fly, for example raising the rates during sporting events, concerts or other times of high parking demand.
The meters run a 2.4.19 Linux kernel, and are networked wirelessly via GPRS (a kind of cell phone protocol). A low-powered ARM processor and a large reserve battery enable the stations to run on solar power, separate from both electrical and telephone grids.
8D's ECO wireless POS device incorporates three boards: an ADS BitsyPlus serves as the embedded computer; an Atmel 8-bit AVR risc-based microcontroller handles data acquisition tasks; and a third, customizable interconnect board provides the necessary interface ports, including serial, IrDA, PCMCIA, digital I/O, analog I/O, wireless WAN (GPRS), Serial Programming Interface (SPI), and One Wire.
The BitsyPlus is based on a 206 MHz StrongARM SA-1110 processor, along with an SA-1111 companion chip that incorporates power-partitioning technology that ADS claims yields the highest "MIPS/watt" (Millions of Instructions per watt) available. The board includes an interface for the CompactFlash device that the parking station boots from, along with 64 MB of RAM.
The parking stations are based on a Linux kernel with the ARM patch applied, as well as a patch from BitsyPlus supplier ADS. Additionally, 8D developed several kernel modules for the parking stations, including one to support the aggressive power management scheme needed by the solar-powered design.
CEO Isabelle Bettez notes that 8D is exploring opportunities to deploy the Linux-based parking stations in several other cities, adding that 8D is prepared to offer several features not included in the Montreal roll-out, including debit card payments, payment via secure Web page, and more.