Automated Robotic Parking

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Rise of the Machines: Robotic Garage will North America’s largest

Posted on | August 1, 2013 | No Comments

It’s not the set of the latest Terminator movie, but the automated garage slated for Willoughby Square Park in Downtown Brooklyn represents the future of parking.

Perry Finkelman, CEO of Automation, talks of designing machines, manipulating machines—even machines that send text messages. It’s not Rise of the Machines he speaks of … not exactly. But the technology that will control the 697-car underground parking garage that Automation plans to build beneath Willoughby Square Park in Downtown Brooklyn very much relies on them.

A human driver parks the car on a pallet, and then computer-operated machines take over: an automated touch screen provides a simple set of directions, and lasers make sure the vehicle is positioned correctly, running a series of safety checks, before computer-programmed robotics swirl the vehicle to a snug underground resting place.

The city tapped Automotion and its partners to build the $35 million garage. American Development Group will serve as project manager of the parking lot and the roughly $5 million dollar park above it, which is slated to become the epicenter of a $2.5 billion mixed-use cultural center.

Too often you have developers looking at price and not dealing with safety issues or reliability, thinking that all automated parking systems are the same. They’re not. Mr. Finkelman wanted to create some sort of trapezoid design to deal with the construction costs—not underpinning as much and using the natural contours of the soil to hold back the soil pressures, as a tool to be competitive. The designer is Solomon Rosenzweig with SRPE, and they are the structural engineers for the project. Their collaboration, the genesis of their drawings, which were actually on the back of a napkin, is what ended up being designed.

This is a technology and construction methodology that has not been used in the U.S.but has been used in Europe—a whole concept of making something extremely environmentally friendly. We figured out that we would be saving 17,000 gallons of gas a year just from [not] driving around the ramps in a conventional garage. That’s a staggering amount of money and fuel—and a waste that we won’t have.

Above will be a one acre public park with grass, trees and benches. All of the old buildings will go except for one that is landmarked as a former home along the underground railroad.

So with respect for history, and a nod to the future, this project will unfold over the next two years.

Adapted from the Commercial Observer
By Al Barbarino

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