What’s the Deal with Automated Parking Systems?


Automated parking systems – what are they and can they make your life easier when you’re looking for monthly parking Los Angeles or Boston or anywhere else in the country? Will we be seeing more of them in the near future? While we here in America have taken a while to catch onto the automated parking system craze, the rest of the world has introduced these high-tech parking garages into their major cities for faster, safer, and even cheaper parking. And here at Spacer, we’ve been wondering why the trend hasn’t caught on here.

So in this article, we’re going to explain everything you’ve ever wondered about automated parking systems, some pros and cons of these alternative parking systems, and the future trends we expect to see in the coming years!

What is an automated parking system?

The idea behind an automated parking system isn’t so different from that of an above-ground parking garage. The main goal is to maximize parking and land usage by building vertically. The problem with above-ground parking garages, though is that the driver still needs enough space to drive around looking for a parking space, pull in, and then open the doors to put their shopping bags or what-have-you in the back.

The automated parking system removes the driver, and thus significantly minimizes the space required to park the car. The car is mechanically lifted up to its designated parking space and gingerly taken down to ground level when the driver is ready to use it again.

In the next section, we’ll talk a little bit about the early history of the automated parking system, which featured a kind of ferris wheel design. In the US today, we tend to stick to a system that relies on moving palettes and modern sensors to park our cars independently.

In the modern-day parking system, you’re likely to park your car in a specified parking bay, where sensors and cameras will identify the size of your car. You’ll be instructed to engage your parking break, turn off the car, and step out of the parking bay. From there, the parking system moves your car on a series of moving palettes and rollers to the nearest possible parking space in the garage. The technology behind these automated parking systems is pretty amazing, with some systems boasting a retrieval time of two minutes.

The actual layout of the parking system can vary. Some you’ll see as round towers, others look like tall glass boxes, and others still are completely out of sight underground. Depending on the area and space available, architects of these creative parking solutions will choose the parking system layout that makes the most sense.

You might see other names for the automated parking system, such as the car parking system (although those may or may not be driven by tech), the automated storage and retrieval system, or the robotic parking garage. In any case, if the car is parked with the help of a mechanical system, you can consider it an automated parking system.

There are also some other automated parking solutions in the works that you might hear about in the tech world. These include self parking cars and robotic valets that can tow your car to a packed parking lot. All of the upcoming technology is exciting, and we’ll be sure to publish new parking news as soon as it becomes available.

History of automated parking systems

As amazing as it is to believe, automated parking systems have been around for just about as long as cars themselves. In fact, the first car parking system in history is considered to be the Garage Rue de Ponthieu, a parking system in Paris built in 1905.

By the 1920s, early automated parking systems tended to rely on a system designed in 1868 called the paternoster lift. British engineer, Peter Ellis, is credited for the circular rotating device, which operates a bit like a Ferris Wheel. Cars could be loaded into a parking bay at the bottom and then suspended with the other cars until the driver returned. A few other designs were tried out. One popular one being the use of stacked parking stalls that could be accessed by a car elevator. In these designs, an attendant still had to drive the car into the parking stall and then ride the elevator down.

Now, remember when we said that America has taken a while to catch onto the automated parking system craze? Well, it might be more accurate to say that we simply lost interest early on. In reality, many major cities in the US did try to adopt automated parking systems, but the wait times and unreliability of the machinery didn’t fit the go-go-go American lifestyle.

It wasn’t until the 90’s that we started to revisit our relationship with the automated parking system, and by that time, we were far behind the curve. By 2018, the US had an estimated 25 automated parking systems, accounting for 6,000 parking spaces, while countries like Japan have about 1.6 million.

Some pros and cons of automated parking

Since the first automated parking system was introduced for monthly parking Los Angeles in 2013, more and more options have opened up for LA drivers. You can now find multiple versions of the new system, from puzzle parking to automated tower systems to something called a flat bi-directional automated system.

Proponents of these new systems suggest that constructing automated parking systems is cheaper, more convenient, and environmentally-friendly. City planners love them because they take up less space and actually reduce car break-ins.

But, there seems to be a long way to go before there’s an automated parking system to accommodate all Drivers. The automated parking systems of today are more on the end of the low-tech systems of the early days than the automated parking systems of the future. Many of the ones that you can find for monthly parking New York or monthly parking Chicago are uncovered and exposed to the elements.

The big challenge for developers is going to be to make a parking system that is reliable, fast, and affordable for the average driver. As of right now, these systems tend to be available only in high end residential buildings and 5 star hotels.

What do current and future customers have to say about these new parking system options?

Considering that companies like CityLift and Westfalia, two big automated parking developers, continue to expand, we can assume that the response has been good. Of course, not all Americans are ready to make the jump or happy with the service.

One review on the CityLift Facebook page suggested that the system that had been introduced to her building was faulty and slow. User error often derailed normal operations, causing delays and freezes in the operating system. Other potential users have expressed concern over whether the electricity costs of the mechanical operating system will really make these parking options more environmentally-friendly.

Largely, though, we don’t know how Americans will respond to automated parking systems. The more that these parking systems are constructed all over the US, we’ll get a better sense of their public support.

If they do work, there is the potential for Drivers to enjoy convenient and affordable parking options. Everyone looking for monthly parking Los Angeles or monthly parking NYC can benefit from parking garages that can fit more cars in a smaller amount of space.

Can you save on monthly parking in Los Angeles or other cities with automated parking services?

So how much money can you expect to pay for automated parking? Unfortunately, it’s too early to say. Many robotic parking systems are in their testing phases, and the ones that are up and running are often limited to residential buildings where the parking may be included in the selling price. The few examples that you can find for automated monthly parking NYC run anywhere from $400 to $650 per month, but again, they tend to be small businesses without covered parking.

Drivers across the country who are looking for affordable parking, whether it’s monthly parking DC or monthly parking Boston or monthly parking Los Angeles, continue to turn to parking sharing companies like Spacer for cheap alternatives while they wait for automated parking systems to become more mainstream.

After all, parking space sharing is already a sustainable option, as you can park in a space that’s already been constructed. Sharing someone’s unused driveway, covered garage or apartment building in the city is a strategic way to save money and the environment.

Depending on where you live, you can find parking for hundreds of dollars less than traditional parking garages and parking lots. For monthly parking Los Angeles, for instance, rates are as low as $200.

And when the automated parking systems become more run-of-the-mill, we can all enjoy the benefits of a driverless parking systems. So make sure to keep a close eye on your local Spacer page to see if you can start renting a space in an automated parking system!

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