The February 2023 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Parking Garage Software Gets Lost in Translation

Gives Commands In German When Garage is Full

1 min read
Parking Garage Software Gets Lost in Translation

There was an amusing story in last week's London Daily Mail about a Birmingham, England council-owned parking garage that has a ticket dispenser that switches from English instructions to German instructions on its display screen when the parking garage is full. Locals are apparently not amused.

According to this story a few days later, the city of Birmingham changed the parking garage's software in December when the city hosted its Frankfurt Christmas Market.

Unfortunately, the exact nature of the change was changed is not explained - I assume it was for the expected German visitors' benefit. For instance, were the parking garage's instructions now given in both German and English instead of just English? If so, was it for a specific period of time, since German instructions now seem only to appear when the parking garage is full. 

If the parking instructions were not given in both German and English, it would seem to be a bit silly to have a software "upgrade" so that the instructions were in English only when the parking garage was not full and in German when it was.

What, did the ticket dispenser's software designers think that German visitors are able to read and understand English when a British parking garage is empty but lose that ability when it is full?

The Daily Mail story shows a photo of the dispenser with a little paper sign attached to it that says helpfully that, "If display shows German writing it means car park is full. Please wait until display returns to English before obtaining ticket."

Plans are in the works to fix the software.

The Conversation (0)

An IBM Quantum Computer Will Soon Pass the 1,000-Qubit Mark

The Condor processor is just one quantum-computing advance slated for 2023

4 min read
This photo shows a woman working on a piece of apparatus that is suspended from the ceiling of the laboratory.

A researcher at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center examines some of the quantum hardware being constructed there.

Connie Zhou/IBM

IBM’s Condor, the world’s first universal quantum computer with more than 1,000 qubits, is set to debut in 2023. The year is also expected to see IBM launch Heron, the first of a new flock of modular quantum processors that the company says may help it produce quantum computers with more than 4,000 qubits by 2025.

This article is part of our special report Top Tech 2023.

While quantum computers can, in theory, quickly find answers to problems that classical computers would take eons to solve, today’s quantum hardware is still short on qubits, limiting its usefulness. Entanglement and other quantum states necessary for quantum computation are infamously fragile, being susceptible to heat and other disturbances, which makes scaling up the number of qubits a huge technical challenge.

Keep Reading ↓Show less