Automated Robotic Parking

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UCLA Medical Center to get 250-car eValet Parking `System

Posted on | April 18, 2011 | No Comments

UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, CA is going to be using an automated parking system referred to as eValet which has been engineered and built by Criterion Manufacturing Solutions out of West Michigan.  The 250-car eValet parking system is the first automated parking system created by the company. The challenge Criterion faces is a throughput requirement of a 60 second car retrieval by the developer, Nautilus Group of Santa Monica, California

It is reported that the system will be shipped in days and installed during the next six months.

“The throughput speed is what made this project so challenging from an engineering standpoint. However, this assignment pushed us to innovate and go beyond the status quo” said Jon Ertle, Criterion Vice President of Sales and Marketing. To see the entire press release click on More.

Press Release

Criterion Manufacturing Solutions
Creates Automated Underground Parking System for UCLA Medical Center

West Michigan Company Achieves Engineering Feat

GRAND RAPIDS, MI, April 12, 2011 – A local West Michigan manufacturer announced today that it has engineered and built one of the country’s most sophisticated automated parking systems to be used by UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, CA. Referred to as eValet, the system will be shipped in days and installed during the next six months.

Criterion Manufacturing Solutions had the opportunity most companies dream of. The customer needed a highly customized solution and Criterion was tapped for the job.

“This is the first automated parking system we have created but we knew we had the expertise and talent on our team to meet the challenge,” said Jeanne Rathbun, Criterion President & CEO. “During the past 20 years we have developed the ability to implement smart motion in a variety of applications. This project and the innovation involved was a natural extension of our continual development process. I’m proud that employees of our small business not only had the talent and experience but also the appetite and drive to take on a project of this magnitude. That’s a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of West Michigan.”

The 250-car automated eValet parking system will place cars in an underground storage unit beneath a medical facility adjacent to the UCLA Santa Monica Hospital. Parkers pull in, exit their car, and after they check in at a kiosk, a movable platform takes the car from the entry bay to a crane system, which lowers the car to the designated level and parking slot. Monthly parkers swipe their driver’s license to identify their car while daily parkers use a debit or credit card. When they return, they swipe the same card and the system returns their car to the entry bay.

One of the greatest challenges of the project was the throughput requirement established by the developer, Nautilus Group of Santa Monica, California. Cars needed to be retrieved within about 60 seconds.

“We had very stringent performance requirements for the automated parking system at the UCLA 16th Street Outpatient Services Building,” said Randy Miller, president, Nautilus Group.  “We demanded a system that was both substantially faster and easier to use than any system on the market and we needed to achieve this within a tight budget and schedule. Criterion believed they could deliver this and they have. They have been fantastic to work with. I cannot commend Criterion enough for delivering an effective custom automation solution to a challenging problem when most competitors were afraid or unwilling to try. I am aware of very few companies that possess the breadth and depth of technical expertise that Criterion has and that are willing to dedicate those resources to challenging one-off project engagements. I am looking forward to opening our automated parking garage to the public and working with Criterion on the next project.”

Criterion met the challenge with thorough research, planning and design.

“We spent time researching ways to maximize throughput speed and even developed a software package to simulate parking activity over hours, days and weeks to see if our calculations were accurate,” said Jon Ertle, Criterion Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “The throughput speed is what made this project so challenging from an engineering standpoint. However, this assignment pushed us to innovate and go beyond the status quo.”

Criterion spent two years researching, designing, engineering and fabricating the eValet system. It brings together several technology platforms:

  • Warehouse Management System (WMS): Think of a typical warehouse where

forklifts are directed by the warehouse management system to pick pallets of product and deliver them to a specified location. Now think of this process happening in less than a minute for storing and retrieving cars that weigh tons, and come in all shapes and sizes. This adds significantly to the complexity and magnitude of the warehousing system.

  • Crane: The crane will move up and down the multiple stories in the underground structure as well as back and forth on each level to place and retrieve cars. Its every move is programmed. The crane also carries the autonomous and intelligent movable platform that adapts to the wheel base of a car by contracting or expanding, and gripping the tires to keep the vehicle stationary on the platform.
  • Sensing: 3D laser sensors were specially designed and new software developed for this application to ‘qualify’ the vehicle—determine its size, angle of its placement and any other constraints that may affect moving the vehicle.
  • Safety Curtain: A boundary box exists around the equipment so if it senses that someone attempts to enter the box it automatically shuts down.
  • Communication: With several software programs functioning for different purposes, a communication system was needed to link them together for maximum effectiveness.

Criterion partnered with viastore, an international material handling company with a location in Grand Rapids, to develop the software for the warehouse management system responsible for the massive storage and retrieval task.

Automated parking systems are relatively new to the U.S. although there are a few on the East Coast. The systems are more common in Europe and Asia in congested urban areas. Criterion’s eValet parking system offers several benefits:

  • Footprint reduced by 33% — allows two to three times more cars to be parked in the same square footage
  • Vehicle emissions reduced due to the fact the vehicle is only running when it is entering or exiting the system
  • Energy consumption lowered as a result of less lighting requirements and reduced ventilation requirements
  • Greater security – no vandalism, theft or damage to vehicles
  • Increased personal safety because the site is well lit and individuals are not walking alone in a dark parking structure
  • Faster, more convenient parking
  • Creates a better urban landscape


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