October 1, 2007 Engineers have designed a parking garage that does the parking for you. A computer program controls the machine that moves the car from the drive in lobby to the efficiently designed car cubby-holes underneath. Because it eliminates the need for driving lanes and ramps, this garage fits 67 cars where a traditional parking garage would fit 24.
The latest in parking technology is here -- an automated parking garage. No one is behind the wheel, but a computer software program is responsible for parking cars. And, it's parking in the most efficient and environmentally friendly way possible.
"It combines elevator equipment with horizontal movement," says Ari Milstein of Automotion Parking Systems in West Hempstead, N.Y.
You pull in and the computer tells you when to stop. Answer a few questions, take a ticket -- and leave!
"The car then gets transferred from the elevator here onto a storage retrieval unit," Milistein explains.
The retrieval unit then takes the car, spins it 180 degrees, and places it in its proper cubby hole. This engineering marvel saves space, squeezing 67 cars in this New York City garage where 24 would normally fit.
Customers love the lack of service. "I was very happy to not go through all the hassles of having someone be in my car, touch my car, touch my things, dent my car, etcetera," customer Gary Gribbs says.
While Automotion's Parking Systems' garage is not the first of its kind -- a competitor in New Jersey uses a different method -- the Automotion system is unique in its back-up system to avoid potential problems.
"It is absolutely dummy proof. Every component has a back-up. Every mistake that can be made has a sensor," Milstein says.
Sensors that rival Fort Knox! So if the car is sticking out for any reason, the machine stops operation. Demand in the United States is stacking up for these people-free parking garages, where customers are happy to not tip ... and drive out without the dings.
There is also an environmental advantage to automated parking. With no idling and moving of cars, there is less pollution.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., contributed to the information contained in the video portion of this report.
BACKGROUND: Would you trust a robot to park your car? New Yorkers will confront that question as the city's first robotic parking garage opens in Chinatown.
HOW IT WORKS: There won't be a humanoid robot actually parking your vehicle; the garage itself does the parking. The driver stops the car on a pallet and gets out. The pallet is then lowered into the innards of the garage and transported to a vacant parking space by a computer-controlled apparatus, similar to an elevator, except it also runs sideways, not just up and down. An array of laser and radar sensors let the system know if the car fits on the pallet, and detect movement to ensure that the driver and passenger have left the car before the pallet begins to move. When the driver returns, the system retrieves the car. Because it parks cars two deep in some spots, it may be necessary to shuffle cars around to retrieve a vehicle. The software system can figure out those logistics. An underground turntable turns the car around before it is lifted to the surface, so it is already facing out into the driveway. Drivers need not have to maneuver their own vehicles by backing out of a garage ý a common cause of accidents. An attendant will be on-site to handle financial transactions and explain the system to would-be clients.
PROS AND CONS: The developers of the Chinatown garage believe that the technology will enable them to squeeze 67 cars into an apartment-building basement that would otherwise only fit 24 cars. While other countries report great success implementing this robotic technology, the only other US robotic parking garage in New Jersey has had some technical glitches, with instances of dropped or trapped vehicles due to system malfunctions. (Nobody was in the vehicles at the time.) The operators of the New Jersey robotic garage dismiss these as 'freak incidents,' and say that the current generation of robotic parking garages is vastly improved in terms of the technology: software, machinery, and more high-tech components such as laser and radar sensors.
ABOUT ROBOTICS: Robots are made of roughly the same components as human beings: a body structure with moveable joints; a muscle system outfitted with motors and actuators to move that body structure; a sensory system to collect information from the surrounding environment; a power source to activate the body; and a computer "brain" system to process sensory information and tell the muscles what to do. Robots are manmade machines intended to replicate human and animal behavior. Roboticists can combine these basic elements with other technological innovations to create some very complex robotic systems. There are plenty of robots doing manual work on factory assembly lines, but while those machines can manipulate objects, they do the same thing, along the same path, every time. The philosophy behind the robot's development is that humans and robots can work together to accomplish tasks that neither could do alone.