1 Executive Summary
Ever since the 19th century, driving an automobile has been one of the main
means of transportation. After several inventions from different people (Karl Benz,
Henry Ford,etc.) the use of automobiles of all different sorts was increased greatly
which in turn came with some problems.
Some of the first cars invented were not as resistant to different types of
weather as the cars we know and use today. Cars had to be parked inside so that
they would be safe from cold, rain, or any other bad weather conditions . As
streets became more and more populated by cars, houses started changing the way
they were being designed . After the creation of the first parking garage, the first
attached garages began appearing in the 1920s and became more and more
popular a decade later.
After garages of all sorts were created, the idea of an instrument to help car
owners park their own car came into play, like a parking stopper, parking alert sensor.
We wanted to create something that was specific to the user in order to help them
park their car at home as well as benefit the user in different ways. We wanted to
make a parking aid that was customizable to the owner as well as simple to use. Our
design will come with lights to help the parker to know when to stop moving the car
if it’s close to the wall of the garage. The design will also come with a display that
will allow the user to adjust some settings based to their liking. The user can enable
audio signals as well to help them park if they are hard of sight or just want an
additional audio signal to help them with their parking.
Our garage parking aid is an excellent alternative to other types of parking
aids since it is adjustable, customizable, and helpful for more than just parking. We
planned to include a number of convenience features to the device after the basic
distance sensor was fully functional, including a failsafe optical distance sensor and
features to alert the user if their lights are left on or if there is a theft attempt on their
car. These would have made the Smart GPA a much more unique product on the
market, but unfortunately they had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic
separating all of our team members.
2 Project Description
Throughout this chapter, we will give a concise project description, covering
the motivations, goals, and specifications that led us to our idea of the project and
the design choices we made within it. In addition, a House of Quality diagram and
project block diagram will be included and analyzed within this section. At the end of
this section, an operations manual will be included to help any potential users
operate our product properly. However, this section will not give any in-depth
information about the specific design choices and technologies used in our final
Our initial motivation for this design stems from our experience parking in
large scale commercial garages, such as the garages university students park in
when commuting to school, and the larger than usual scale of accidents that occur
when parking a vehicle in a small space, especially for youth drivers. As young
university students, we experience these situations often and sought to create a
device that would mitigate risk of drivers accidentally hitting objects with their
vehicles while parking.
While most parking garage sensors are mounted on a vehicle, with the sole
purpose to protect that vehicle, our parking garage sensors were intended to be
mounted on a wall, for instance, for varying vehicles to use when parking in that
one location. Added features such as the option to pay for parking, extra life safety
lighting, etc., would have made this device more marketable for commercial
The proposal of creating a garage parking sensor marketable towards large
scale commercial garages was our first idea proposal. This proposal
was revised with our advisor’s suggestion of creating a garage parking sensor that
could help with the handicap. We came to realize that creating a parking sensor to
help specifically handicap people came with some difficulties.
Some difficulties that we came across with this idea was that the majority of
handicap parking is always found on the first floor of any parking garage as well as
close to stairs and exits, so it would not have as much obstacles as would a normal,
non-handicap person. Another difficulty we found with this idea is that handicap
people who can’t see and are blind, cannot drive a motorized vehicle due to the
danger of others around them. Eventually we could not find a way to create a parking
garage sensor to aid handicap drivers that is any different than regular drivers.
After thinking of a commercialized parking garage aid, and a handicap parking
aid, we instead came up with a garage parking sensor marketable towards
homeowners with garages instead. Our features shifted from helping drivers park in
large scale garages to drivers parking in home garages. We then began to
brainstorm about other ways that our garage parking aid can help or alleviate drivers
parking their cars in home garages. Some of our ideas were inspired by day to day
concerns we have about our cars after we park and walk away from them.
We wanted to create an at home parking aid that was different than others
seen in the market today. We started thinking of what concerns drivers have, and
we came up with the idea of helping the user not only park their car, but as well as
helping make sure the car and/or car lights are always turned off after exiting the
vehicle. There are many times where people are in a rush or are simply forgetful
about things, and one main thing a lot of people forget to do is turn off their car lights
or car, which can drain the battery of the car. With our parking garage aid, we strive
to help that problem that happens every day.
One concern we thought about was sensing for exterior car lights staying on
after we walk away from the car. A common feature in modern cars are automatic
lights, that turn on and off without our control. As useful as this feature is, a common
incidence is that after a driver becomes too accustomed to this feature in their car,
that when they turn off their vehicle and walk away, the light can sometimes remain
on without notice. Therefore, we decided to add this light sensing feature to our
device as an added feature. This would satisfy our concern of helping the users not
just with parking their car.
Another feature we would like to add to the parking garage aid is to make it
be user adjusted. We will add a GUI display that can allow the user to change
the setttings to what they want and be user friendly. The GUI will be useful in
changing the time, change the colors of the LED display and more.
With all the add-ons and features we added to our Garage parking aid we
came up with the name Smart GPA (Smart Garage Parking Aid) and believe that it
is different than any at home garage parking aid available to the market today.
2.2 Goals and Objectives
The goal for this project is for it to be a self-contained, portable system that
can be attached to the wall of any typical home garage where a vehicle can be
parked so the device can detect the position of the car to avoid any possible collision
with the wall. This device will also offer additional features such as an interactive
display and lighting components for extra back up lighting.
Some of our objectives we would like to accomplish are listed below.
● Provide a working electronic system that is cheap to produce.
● Design and build a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) that will be used as a
controller for the power distribution.
● Build a detection based sensor that will be the main device component
to measure physical distances.
● Design a GUI display that will have settings the user can customize.
● Design the display to be able to accommodate all users.
● Create a light sensor that can alert the user when the car lights have
been left on.
● System provides clear output as an alert to driver via some
● System is small enough to be viable for garages of any size.
● System can withstand splashes of water or contact with any other
● System is built with materials that are easily acquirable by large
commercial enterprises like Walmart, Amazon, etc., besides optical
elements used for distance sensor.
● System will be tentatively low voltage and run on one main power
supply that will supply whole device.
● System will be enclosed in an enclosure that meets NEMA standards.
● System will meet all standards and constraints.
The fundamental function of the garage parking aid is to alert a driver parking
either forward or in reverse in a parking space if they are within near proximity from
the wall. This device will be attached to the wall with all its components
compartmentalized in an enclosure. A visual light LED display would alert driver
when it is okay to continue driving near the wall and then the color or pattern of light
would change significantly enough to alert driver of high-risk proximity. Audio cues
have yet to be determined but if possible, to integrate will also enhance the garage
parking aid in alerting the driver.
2.3 Specifications and Constraints
In this section, the specifications and constraints for our design will be
identified and discussed below. Our specifications and constraints will be used as
reference through our research and design phases to properly select components
that can function within specifications and constraints.
Specifications are an important part of any design process. They are the ruler
from which it is decided whether the final product was either a success, or a
failure. Specifications should work to inspire design choices by giving broad
requirements that must be fulfilled but may be fulfilled through a variety of methods.
Different options can then be compared with each other on how well they would fulfill
the project specifications. Specifications can be changed, but engineers should
always work to try and fulfill a specification as well as they can before they change
There are specifications for both the hardware and software components of a
design which must be considered. Table 1 on the next page lists the basic hardware
specifications of the Smart GPA. Table 2 lists the basic software specifications of the
The additional specifications for the software of the Smart GPA are listed in
Table 2, on the next page. Note that specifications should not directly choose an
option for the team before the design process begins. For example, a specification
to use a specific operating system is not a specification but a constraint. However, a
specification listing a needed computing speed or compatibility of an operating
system would be a valid specification.
Constraints are a concept in product design that are similar to the
specifications but are different in some important ways. Like specifications,
constraints must be fulfilled for the product to be a success. Unlike specifications,
however, constraints are quite literally mandatory limitations that cannot be broken
and still have the product be sold or exist. Unlike specifications, constraints serve to
limit the choices that can be made during product design. Together, specifications
and constraints help to find the best possible options for a design.
One of the major constraints for the Smart GPA is that our team is entirely
self-funded, so cost and budgeting will be a major factor in its design. We are going
to have to research different components that will give the same results but for
cheaper prices, and good for the environment as one of our objectives is to be low
cost and eco-friendly. Optical components are expensive, so there will be a tradeoff
between the quality of our rangefinder and the cost of its components.
Another constraint will be the overall size of our enclosure. We cannot make
the system too large, as it loses usefulness when it comes out too far from the wall.
This will decrease the maximum possible size of our optical components used for
distance sensing, which may end up decreasing performance. The enclosure needs
to allow the lasers to escape and the camera to see outside, but it should also be
waterproof to protect its inner electrical components, such as the Raspberry Pi that
will be used for calculations. The enclosure must also be big enough to contain the
LED display lights as well as the Raspberry Pi.
Some of the more physical constraints involve the visual and audio cues that
would be used to alert the driver parking the vehicle near the wall. The lights would
have to counteract and still be noticeable to the red rear brake lights or white front
lights in most commercial vehicles. The system cannot fully operate in environments
where the light level drops too low as it can interfere with the functionality of the
A constraint that would come up when testing the Garage Parking Aid is that
only two of our group members have a car they bring to campus. When testing the
system, we will be able to design it so that it works for those specific cars, but we will
not be able to easily test how it works on different cars.
Another constraint is location of testing. As our device is marketed as a
product ideally for home garage use, there are no standards for how home garages
are laid out. Receptacle location, ambient light levels, and space cannot be assumed
when designing our device. Therefore, creating a device that is flexible to these
limitations would help in creating a more adaptable product. Our testing locations will
change to test the functionality of our device in a multitude of environments within
Another constraint is that the senior design lab room has very
few components for us to use, as it only has multimeters and power sources along
with a few other components. The senior design lab does not have the basic
components needed to for powering components such as breadboards, resistors, or
capacitors. We are limited by the tools in the Senior Design Lab to test the quality
and functionality of our components. In order to test the components of the Smart
GPA and its overall system, we will need to rent components from an
The largest constraint that harmed our progress with the Smart GPA was the
coronavirus pandemic making it so our team members could no longer meet up and
work on the project. This constraint eventually led to the cancellation of all stretch
goals of the device.
2.4 House of Quality Analysis
The House of Quality is a chart which is used to help engineers decide the
specifications for a product design. On one side of the House of Quality, consumer
requirements are listed, and on the other, engineering requirements are listed. The
House of Quality then contains a table illustrating the correlation between each pair
of engineering and consumer requirements. Using these correlations, engineers can
then decide which requirements should be prioritized and see how they will affect
the other requirements of the product. In addition, the House of Quality can be used
in presentations to show the features and attributes of the design for the consumer
perspective. The House of Quality for our project, the Smart GPA, is shown in Figure
Our House of Quality displays the consumer and engineering requirements
for the Smart GPA system. Several of these requirements are shared, with accuracy,
cost, and size being important both for engineering design and consumer use.
Looking at our House of Quality, all the consumer requirements take time to
improve and most result in increased cost as well, with the exception of reducing the
size of the system. Reducing the size of the system results in a net positive for most
of the consumer requirements but harms the accuracy of measurements. Therefore,
we should aim to make the system as small as possible while fulfilling our accuracy
requirement. Increasing power can improve our accuracy, but it comes at the cost of
safety. Thus, we should be careful to never go above our power limit of 5 mW, since
safety is a vital consumer requirement. However, increasing the measuring rate has
no negative tradeoffs other than cost. This means that we should make the
measuring rate as high as possible with the money we have ready to spend. The
House of Quality is used for all of this analysis and can be used for much more to
help us with our final project design.
Our House of Quality also contains three engineering requirements that are
highlighted in the diagram. These three requirements: Accuracy, measuring rate,
and power; are the main engineering requirements that will be presented in our first
demonstration of the Smart GPA. These three requirements were chosen as they
control the overall functionality and safety of the design.
2.5 Smart GPA Block Diagram
The project block diagram is used to organize the different technologies used
in our project design, illustrating the inputs and outputs from each technology as well
as the person who is assigned to work with that given technology. Using the block
diagram, the group can get a better idea of how the different aspects of the project
design work together to produce the final product. It also allows for the group to plan
out responsibilities ahead of time and distribute them evenly so that no one person
is doing too much or too little work. The block diagram for the Smart GPA is shown
in Figure 2 below.
The block diagram for the Smart GPA shows only the names of the
technologies used, but not their implementation. The fundamental function of the
Smart GPA depends on the distance measurement which is done using the laser
diodes and the camera connected to the microcontroller. Once the microcontroller
receives the distance measurement, it sends a signal out to power the LED lights
through the PCB.
In addition to the main function, the microcontroller is also connected to a
touch display which is used for customization and other possible features, and a pair
of photodiodes used to detect whether the user’s car lights are on. All of this is
powered from one main power supply connected to a PCB. Overall, the block
diagram has two blocks for all the group members except Nicholas Zollo, and since
the laser diodes and camera work together as one distance sensor system, each
group member is basically responsible for two blocks, leading to a well distributed
It should be noted that the photodiodes indicated in the block diagram are part
of the car light detector stretch goal which was not completed. Therefore, the final
Smart GPA product did not use any photodiodes.
2.6 Cancelled Stretch Goals and Feature Proposals
In the process of choosing features that would enhance our device but also
comply with our requirements of senior design, many features were discussed but
decided to not be chosen and to not be main features of the device. Many of the
reasons the features were not included in our project design goals and objectives
varied with each different feature. Below we will discuss some of the features that
almost made it to our design or may have been implemented if time permitted to
enhance the functionality of our Smart GPA device. Due to the coronavirus pandemic
slowing down the progress of the Smart GPA, none of these goals were implemented,
but they were all in the plan at one point or another.
2.6.1 Car Light Detector
An early feature considered for the Smart GPA was a system to
detect whether the car’s lights are on when it is parked. When we made the change
to the Smart GPA to be for home use rather than a parking garage, this feature
seemed to be an obvious convenience boost for the user, and something the user
might use often. Many people accidentally leave their headlights on if their car does
not automatic lights, or even leave their car on when they park. When this happens,
the car quickly uses up its battery, and when the car itself is left on, there is an
increased risk of theft. For these reasons, detecting if the car’s lights are on is a
valuable feature for the Smart GPA.
The implementation of this feature would depend on the use of photodiodes,
optoelectronic elements which create an electrical current based on the amount of
light hitting them. From this generated electrical current, we can differentiate
between different light levels, and possibly tell when the car’s lights are on or off. If
this is detected for a short period of time, over a minute or two, then the user would
be alerted in some fashion to let them know they left their headlights or their car on
after parking. This feature was not included in this prototype because it was not
required for our Senior Design project. This feature would not be difficult to integrate
into our device as it would not consume a significant amount of power and would not
impede in the functionality of the all the other components.
Unfortunately, due to Nicholas Zollo being relocated to New York for the entire
end of the design period, this feature was no longer possible to implement in the
Smart GPA, despite being the main stretch goal we wanted to implement since the
2.6.2 Failsafe Distance Sensor
One of the most prominent ideas for an addition to the Smart GPA is the
addition of a second failsafe distance sensor that works along with the primary laser
triangulation distance sensor. This idea was first suggested to us by our team’s
advisor. The purpose of the failsafe distance sensor would be to alert the user that
they are very close to the wall even when the primary distance sensor is not working
for some reason. This way, even if the Smart GPA has some errors with its distance
sensor, the danger to the user will be minimized.
The main idea suggested for this failsafe sensor would be a light source
planted in the ceiling or side wall of the garage with a retroreflector placed on the
opposite side of the garage. The retroreflector would be placed so that the light
is reflected back into the source and is detected there. However, both the light
source and the reflector would be placed in a way such that a car pulling in will block
the path of the light back to the source.
When the car pulls in and blocks the light, the failsafe distance sensor knows
that it is in the path of the light and close to the wall. It will then either send a signal
to the main Smart GPA signal to tell the user to stop, or make a visual or audio signal
itself to warn the user. If this feature were implemented, it would take some extra
work for sure, but the consistency of the Smart GPA system would improve greatly.
2.6.3 Measuring Time Car is Parked
One of the features considered to be added was being able to measure the
amount of time a car was parked. This feature was originally considered when the
Smart G.P.A was marketable towards large scale commercial garages. This feature
could have been helpful to the user parking their car, but especially to the owners of
the garage who would want to keep track of parked car’s time.
In our conceptual design, this did not seem hard to implement, as the
sensor on the device already measured distance. Therefore, this feature would have
involved implementing an algorithm for the sensor to constantly collect
data and verify if a vehicle is parked in front of sensor. This feature was ultimately
declined because it does not seem helpful for homeowners to want to collect the
time their car is parked. We included this feature on this report though, because it
good to note that all components necessary for this feature will be acquired to
accomplish our main goals.
2.6.4 Audio Alert
Another feature that may have seemed obvious to add was alert sounds to
go along with the LED visual alerts to alert the driver when parking car. This would
have enhanced the main goal of the device which is to alert drivers when they are
parking to near to the device. This was decidedly not added as a feature to the
device because it required a whole extra component dedicated to just alerting driver.
It was decided that only one component would be needed. LED lights were chosen
for handicapped drivers who have hearing disabilities or impairments cannot rely on
audio alerts. Whereas with LED lights, all drivers can notice the visual alert.
The audio alert can be added as a feature in this project with the added
component of an audio system. This would require an audio amplifier to amplify the
analog signals from a microcontroller which usually have low analog signals, to
create an audio alert. There is also the added constraint that the audio alert
cannot startle the driver too much and cause an accident.
2.6.5 Tracking Location of Vehicle
This feature was heavily considered when the Smart G.P.A. was marketable
towards large scale commercial garages. One issue many drivers run into when
parking in large garages is tracking the location of their parked vehicle. With the
device being stationary and with the added feature of sensing a vehicle parked, it
could alert drivers where their vehicle is parked. This feature proposal did not go far
in the conceptual phase. We did not decide whether the location of car would be
tracked via GPS, Bluetooth, or no wireless communication technology. If the user
can alert the device that it wants to be alerted of the car location, then one option
was to turn on audio and visual alerts so the car can be tracked. Very similar to a
car alarm in modern cars.
Another option would have been to track vehicle via GPS or other wireless
communication technology that can provide directions to driver of where their vehicle
is parked. This feature though in home use does not provide much potential to
homeowners who likely do not need help with locating their vehicles.
2.6.6 Theft Prevention
Another stretch goal was to be able to detect motion surrounding
the parking vehicle from the where the device was mounted in the hope to detect
unusual movement near vehicle. Theft from vehicles is a common problem
and technology to reduce that can be extremely marketable. This goal was
conceptualized when we were considering creating the Smart G.P.A for large scale
commercial garages, bur this feature would still be marketable toward homeowners.
As ambitious as this goal was, we ran into many obstacles in fool proofing this
method. Obstacles conceptualized included being able to accurately
detect movement specifically related to theft. A proposal could have been used
with AI technology to detect a theft. Machine learning is typically an integral part of
smart technology. Incorporating AI into our project though, would alter the designs
for almost everything else. From our power distribution to our selection of MCU. It
was a good idea and maybe a future model can incorporate this feature,
but we could not achieve conceptualizing this proposal with the quality of technology
utilized in the design of this device.
A potential method discussed for theft prevention would be requiring the user
to sign into the Smart GPA system before pulling out of their garage. If the user did
not sign in and the distance sensor detected the car pulling out, then the user would
be alerted. This idea was tossed around but was thought to have posed too much of
a hassle for the user to be worthwhile. It is far more likely that the user would forget
to sign in and be annoyed by a theft prevention alert than that someone else would
attempt to steal a car in someone’s garage and the user would find the alert useful.
However, this idea would not be very difficult to implement for the Smart GPA team.