Automated Robotic Parking

A professional look at the automated parking industry.

How Legacy Automated Parking Systems Work

Posted on | April 21, 2010 | No Comments

For the last year and a half or so, we bombarded you with news about how many vehicles any given manufacturer sells each month. We witnessed together how millions after millions after millions of vehicles find new owners each year worldwide. Toyota alone, to give you an example, sells around 8 and a half million vehicles each year. Naturally, the question arises: where will we park them all? We mean, the streets aren’t getting bigger, cities grow much slower in size than the sales rate of new vehicles and yet, more and more cars keep poring onto the roads. Many cities already battle congestion on a daily basis. Taking a one or two hours margin when leaving for work has become part of hour daily routine. Similarly, when returning home, minutes are lost in search of a parking space. We’re overrun with cars… The solution to all the parking problems isn’t at all different than the one envisioned by architects for accommodating the growing population: since we can’t go sideways, we’ll go up (or down). Enter the automated parking systems. Also known as automated parking garages, multi-tiered car parking systems, robotic parking or simply buildings for cars, the solution is as simple as it is effective: cars are stacked one on top of each other, on several levels. This solution allows, for instance, for 20 cars to occupy the same footprint as four would have done in normal parking conditions. An automated parking garage can be erected on any empty lot, even in between buildings. They come in several sizes, so a city can choose which type of garage fits its needs best. The building itself is made of a metal skeleton which can be covered on the outside with pretty much what ever is needed for it to fit in the city landscape. HOW IT WORKS Automated parking systems make use of computers, sensors, cameras and mechanical components to take the car, move it throughout the garage and park it in an empty slot. The process is very simple and it requires little effort from the driver. There are two types of automated parking systems, depending on the manner in which they transport the car from entry to the parking spot: horizontal platforms or vertical lifts. In both cases, the process is very similar, with the only thing that differs being the movement of the car until it reaches the desired space (lateral or vertical). In both types of systems, the car is driven into the multi-storied garage as usual. Once positioned on the ramp, the driver shuts down the engine, secures the parking brake and steps out of the car. While the driver does all this, sensors analyze the vehicle to determine it’s size and overall shape. (Below is a “how it works” video of such a system) Once the driver has exited the building, the mechanical arms of the living building are set in motion. Depending on the available empty spots in the garage, the system determines where to take the car. Using various electro-mechanical components, the car is moved into the respective spot, either vertically or horizontally. For the fastest such systems, the whole process can take as little as two and a half minutes from entry to parking the car in its spot. Most such systems are fitted with turntables, which means that when leaving, there is no need for the driver to drive in reverse. Now, if your wondering how the system recognizes which car is yours, you should know it does no guess work. Automated parking systems give you a card or key containing a code which identifies the position of the vehicle. Once you scan your card or key, the system finds the car and sets in motion it’s mechanical arms to bring the car back to you. ADVANTAGES We doubt there’s any real need for us to point out the advantages of such parking systems over existing parking lots and even over multi-storied car parks. Automated parking systems are, if you like, the next generation multi-storied car parks. Having no access ramps, automated parking occupies less space on the ground. Space is also gained from the fact that the cars are staked together much closer compared to usual parking lots, because they don’t require clearance for the doors to open. Automated parking systems can help cut CO2 emissions and fuel consumption levels because they don’t require the engine to be running while the car is moved about through the building. Automated parking systems can be built both above or under ground, depending on the available space in a given city. DISADVANTAGES The disadvantages of using such systems are pretty much limited to the so-called acts of God. For instance, an earthquake can damage or even bring down such a parking system, damaging the cars in it as well. Still, being a mechanical gizmo, an automated parking system may from time to time fail and scratch or damage the body of the car. Some may even go on and say you may get the neighborgh’s car… Regardless of how we look at them, automated parking systems are the future in parking. Still in their infancy, the system are somewhat common in Japan. The US began erecting some in 2002, while in Europe such systems appeared in cities in 2007.

adapted from autoevolution


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