Automated Robotic Parking

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Sherman Oaks to be first completed automated parking structure in LA

Posted on | May 27, 2011 | No Comments

Imagine a parking structure with no circling cars, no exhaust fumes, no noise.

The vision of the future is about to become reality, with the approval this week of a fully automated garage for an apartment building in Sherman Oaks.

Chris Alan, CEO of Van Nuys-based Dasher Lawless, said he expects to complete the 16-vehicle garage in October at the project near Burbank Boulevard and Hazeltine Avenue.

Tenants will park their locked cars on a loading pallet, which will be transported by conveyor belt to a space inside the garage. Sensors determine the size of the car so the appropriate space can be found – without scratching or dinging the vehicle.

And when the tenant returns, the process will be reversed.

The system – almost like a vending machine for cars – is being considered by developers and city officials in Burbank, Long Beach and Artesia, Alan said.

“Automated parking is coming and in a huge way,” Alan said. “It’s safer, greener, and more efficient.”

Without the need for ramps and driving space, the system allows up to three times more cars to be parked in one lot, Alan said. Exhaust emissions also are reduced since cars are not running as drivers search for a space.

Los Angeles building and safety officials said the process of approving the automated garage was a challenge, because the city lacked codes for such a project.

So officials created guidelines for such structures that they believe will keep motorists safe and cars protected and will help spur more innovation in the city’s planning and development.

“We are looking forward to this type of innovation and technology,” said David Lara, spokesman for the Department of Building and Safety.

“We look forward to working with developers on these types of innovations, especially those that promote better use of space and green technologies.”

In the last few weeks, projects in West Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles have been approved with plans to have automated parking lots, although Alan’s Sherman Oaks garage, if completed on schedule, will officially be the first to arrive in Los Angeles.

Councilman Paul Krekorian, who represents Sherman Oaks, said he was excited about the system and its potential benefits in high-density areas.

“If this project is successful it presents a real advantage, not just to Sherman Oaks but to all of Los Angeles, in addressing our challenges with parking,” Krekorian said. “This really moves our city forward.”

Automated parking lots may sound innovative, but they are hardly new.

One of the nation’s first mechanical parking lots opened in downtown Los Angeles in the late 1920s. The system stacked cars mechanically and required an operator to manage the system, which made many drivers impatient and reduced the popularity of the lots.

The first fully automated garage was unveiled in 2002 in Hoboken, N.J., to mixed reviews. A car was accidentally dropped six stories in 2004, and another car was dropped four stories the following year.

A robotic parking system opened in New York City in 2007 has reported far fewer problems.

Adapted from Whittier Daily News 5/27/2011

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