Automated Robotic Parking

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Robotic Parking coming to American Cities- smaller footprint will help CRE Development

Posted on | August 2, 2013 | No Comments

Robotic parking can reduce the footprint of a parking garage, cut pollution and traffic congestion, and make room for more commercial real estate (CRE) development, according to industry experts.

“There is an explosion of innovation and creativity that has entered the parking industry in the last 10 or 15 years, robotic parking being one of those things,” Casey Jones, immediate past chair of the International Parking Institute (IPI), told BNA June 5. “This makes me very optimistic about the future of parking, and the role that robotic parking plays in our industry,” he said.

Automated parking garages, a system similar to that of automated storage and retrieval warehouses (ASRS) all over the world, is based on a system called auto­mated vehicle storage and retrieval systems (AVSRS), according to data from the IPI. A motorist simply drives up to the garage, turns off the engine, and the machines do the rest, Jones said. “[The automobile] is carted away to a storage area. You return . . . a gate opens, you step into the car, and drive it away,” Jones said.

U.S.Lags Behind the World. Jones said theUnited Statesis well behind Europe andAsiain terms of total market penetration. But the firstU.S.robotic garage,New Jersey’s Hoboken Garden Street Garage, com­pleted October 2002, has worked through the initial challenges, made adjustments to the system, and be­come “viable,” Jones said. “We have made it through this phase of making the necessary adjustments and helping the market understand that robotic garages can play a part.” They are also coming down in price, he said. “The scarcity of land has not changed, so I think that viability, especially with the most recent projects, is an encouraging sign.” A traditional, four-story garage can accommodate between 80 to 100 vehicles. The Ro­botic Parking system can handle 312.

According to Jones, the industry has yet to come up with a formula that quantifies the amount of money saved. It varies by market, he said. “So if you are inNew YorkorSan Francisco, the economics of building parking are very different than inBoiseorBoulder. So I don’t think there is an average number.”

The support systems for the two kinds of facilities, Jones said, constitute the main difference and challenge

for those building a robotic parking system. “Robotic garages, in lay terms, have systems very much like el­evators, so you would need . . . technicians who have similar skills and capabilities . . . a specialist or a busi­ness partner who specializes in that to keep that system running.” The “capable, friendly,” parking attendants of the conventional systems exist in “different worlds,” he said. The necessary type of specialist/business part­ner, Jones said, can certainly be found. “At the IPI’s an­nual conference[s], there are several providers of ro­botic garages there, so I think there are choices.”

Green Aspects of Parking Lots. According to UCLA Professor Donald Shoup, author of The High Cost of Free Parking, 30 percent of the traffic congestion in ur­ban areas is caused by motorists searching for a park­ing space. Jones “absolutely” agrees with that. “I think in some places it is probably even more,” he said Ro­botic parking, which calls for a reduced amount of land for the same number of parking spaces, can help lower that percentage. Air quality also can be improved. “If you drive into the receiving bay of a robotic garage,” he said, “you shut your car off, and that’s it. There are no more emissions in that parking experience. So there has really been a minimizing of the greenhouse gas emissions and pollution,” he said.

CRE Possibilities. Jones said he expects robotic park­ing to make CRE ventures more viable, especially in high-density areas. Their smaller footprint saves land that could be developed into other business ventures, and they provide access to the businesses once they are built. “That is critical,” he said. “Until we have dis­pensed with automobiles,” he said, “we have to find ways to accommodate a reasonable amount of parking. I don’t think there are a whole lot of projects that you could imagine that robotic parking couldn’t be compat­ible with.”

Jones said that robotic parking is a wave of the fu­ture, but not the only wave. Dense, urban areas will cer­tainly find a place for it. “I think those that have very dense development, where land is at a premium . . . are the places where robotic parking will grow,” he said. “San Francisco,L.A.,Seattle, maybe. IfPortlandwere building garages, I could imagine that [there]. There are some places where this makes sense, and I would ex­pect to see it.”

BY KEVIN LAMBERT

Adapted from
REAL ESTATE LAW & INDUSTRY REPORT ISSN 1944-9453       BNA 7-23-13
 

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