Life’s new luxury: automated parking garages

August 9, 2013
automated car parking

An automated parking garage (image via gizmag).

A parking space is a precious commodity, so much so that some people are ready to spend an insane amount of money to have one. As cities become more space-starved, parking becomes more and more of a luxury experience. Take, for example, how car owners and real estate developers are investing in automated parking garages.

Robotic parking garages come as a boon, especially to billionaires and celebrities who no longer have to risk their high-profile status by being exposed to parking attendants when they don’t want to. It’s a good deal in general, though, as it takes the misery out of finding a parking spot in dense urban areas.

Automated parking garages — new to the U.S.

Although automated parking garages have been popular in Europe and Asia for a while, they’ve only recently come to the U.S. This could be because “Europe and Japan have more constrained land uses,” as Susan Shaheen, Policy and Behavioral Research program leader for California’s Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways at the University of California, Berkeley, pointed out.

Recently, a luxury apartment building in Philadelphia installed an automated parking garage. “It’s run by incredibly sophisticated software,” says David Ertz, a Cope Linder Architects partner. The 31-story high-rise condominium had a footprint of just 6,700 square ft and needed on-site parking.

Automated parking garages also exist in residential complexes in New York City, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles. “It just sounded a little kooky,” says Michael Hertinstein, a resident with three cars parked in one of New York City’s automated parking garages. “But I think it’s great,” he continues.

How automated parking garages work

The cars have transponders that send signals to open doors so drivers can get their vehicles onto elevators with pallets. Electronic sensors ensure the car is in position and that a baby or a pet isn’t left behind. Next, motorists swipe a programmed card at a kiosk telling the system the car owner’s name.

Then, the elevator automatically lowers the car and parks it in the nearest available spot. When the driver needs the car, he or she just swipes the programmed card at the elevator. The system traces the car, raises it, spins it to face the door and returns it to the owner.

Automated parking garages in luxury apartment buildings

The high cost of such a system however, means that it is more likely to be found in luxury apartment properties. “You can’t have a 500-unit high-rise because there are only a certain number of cars that each elevator can move,” says Jim Donnelly, a developer with Pursuit Group, Charlotte, N.C.

The Porsche Design Tower, in Sunny Isles Beach, Miami, Florida is one such property meant for car lovers. They can stay in their cars while they are being parked, letting a robotic arm put the car in the elevator. After they reach their floor, the robotic arm will park the car in the living room, showcasing the cars behind a glass wall.

Efficiency advantages of automated parking garages

My Garage Sign

View this sign here.

As people increasingly prefer walkable neighborhoods but still need cars, underground compact parking can be a solution. Automated parking garages can support building swimming pools too.

Automated parking garages also reduce air pollution, since drivers don’t need to search for parking spaces while emitting gas. Cars are parked much closer to one another, because there’s no need to open and shut doors. Ramps become redundant, so less space is needed. They save time and effort, and are safer, like automated bike parking solutions.


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Category: Parking Tech