Driven to Excess – Robotic Parking Systems Helps Urban Areas Create Space for Parking

Every driving trip begins and ends with parking and much of the air pollution and traffic congestion in urban areas results from drivers cruising around looking for a parking space. This is a true whether drivers are searching for curbside parking, circling inside a parking garage or trying to find a good spot in a mall parking lot.

parking jam

One example of this is shown in a research study conducted by Transportation Alternatives on a 15-block area of Columbus Avenue, a major commercial corridor on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. They found that the demand for curbside parking in New York City far exceeds the supply. This mismatch was compounded by the fact that curbside parking is free or priced far below garage rates, which are 10-15 times more expensive.

The low price of curbside parking unleashes a torrent of bargain-hunting drivers. Those who find spaces stay longer to make the most of their find. And when all spaces at the curb are occupied, other cars looking for parking circle in traffic for an elusive space. The saturation of curbside parking is a direct cause of air pollution, illegal parking and traffic congestion, all of which exact high costs on New York City’s environment, economy, health and quality of life.

The Transportation Alternative’s study revealed:

  • Motorists “cruise” a total of 366,000 miles a year as they search for metered parking in the 15-block survey area on Columbus Ave. : further than a one-way trip to the moon.
  • Drivers cruise on average seven blocks (.37 miles) to find a metered parking space. During peak periods, before lunch and from 6pm to 8pm, motorists cruise an average of 14 blocks (.7 miles) before finding a parking spot.
  • Drivers searching for curbside parking in the survey area generate 325 tons of Carbon Dioxide annually.
  • On metered blocks, curb parking is completely occupied up to half the time. Unmetered blocks are completely full up to 75% of the time.
  • The average vehicle parks for 93 minutes. Posted “1 Hour Parking” regulations are neither observed nor enforced. Each metered parking spot turns over 5.8 times per day. Each unmetered spot turns over 2.3 times per day.

Other studies by Transportation Alternatives have documented that between 28% and 45% of traffic on some streets is generated by cruising for parking.

Many cities lack sufficient parking close to downtown areas often because of the large space required for conventional garages. Automated parking garages such as Robotic Parking Systems can fit the same number of cars is about half the space and opens up numerous opportunities for locating garages throughout downtown areas. Since all cars are dropped off and retrieved at ground level entry / exit stations, this eliminates cruising through the garage looking for a space and patrons of the garage receive premium service.

Robotic Parking Entry / Exit Bay
In a Robotic Parking System cars are parked and retrieved at well-lighted entry / exit bays.
Inside a Robotic Parking System
Cars are moved inside a Robotic Parking System with automated machinery and lifts.

Sufficient Robotic Parking garages in an urban area could reduce curbside parking and the inherent cruising for a space as well as improve the environment for bicyclists, pedestrians and other drivers.


Robotic Parking Systems named as one of the world’s 18 most interesting and innovative parking garages.

A recent article in Popular Mechanics entitled The World’s 18 Strangest Parking Garages covers the world’s most interesting, innovative and just plain bizarre parking garages. Robotic Parking Systems’ automated garage in Dubai was selected as one of these innovative car parks. 

Parking garages are often architectural afterthoughts. Monolithic and utilitarian, they rarely offer more than the necessary housing of cars for other more aesthetic structures. “It’s an expense a developer generally doesn’t like, but it is a necessary evil to make his development successful,” says Len Tsupros, president of Carl Walker Construction, a design firm that specializes in parking garages. However, as cities become larger and as transportation technology changes, the role and function of the parking garage has to be redefined. Here are some of the world’s most interesting, innovative and just plain bizarre parking garages.  

Robotic Parking Systems Dubai
Robotic Parking Systems automated garage for Ibn Battuta Gate project in Dubai.

Robotic Parking Systems Garage
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates 

Dubai, a city that boasts a chain of private man-made islands arranged in the shape of the globe, is likewise extravagant and innovative with its parking structures. This is currently the world’s largest robotic parking garage and can handle 250 cars per hour 

Why It’s Unique:
From the outside it looks like a single-car garage, but hidden inside is a 765-vehicle storage facility. The robotic automation ensures that the cars are parked as efficiently as possible. The automation makes it easy on the driver and saves space, but it requires a lot of capital from the developer, Tsupros says. 

For the full story click on the Popular Mechanics link below. 


Architects and Developers Maximize Site Development with Robotic Parking Systems

Automated parking garages offer solutions for a wide range of projects, from retail to hospitals to financial centers to mixed-use developments. These types of parking facilities are a key component in helping architects and developers maximize space in site development. The space created by parking twice as many cars in half the area can be put to better use as green space, areas for the community or even to make the project workable.

For example, a marina club needs a parking facility but only has a small footprint available on very expensive property. The garage requires a significant number of spaces but relatively low throughput. The Robotic Parking System designed for this parking facility is only 62 feet by 64 feet but can store 160 cars in a height of only 86 feet. The two entry / exit bays can store or retrieve approximately 60 cars per hour. The system provides redundancy since either vertical car lift can service every car in the facility, both entry / exit bays can be used to store or return cars and either car carrier can retrieve any car in the garage. Click here to see the Robotic Parking System design.

New 2011 Edition of “NFPA 88A: Standard for Parking Structures” Released – Includes New Chapter for Automated Parking Garages

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) has released the new 2011 Edition of “NFPA 88A: Standard for Parking Structures” which includes for the first time automated parking structures. The new edition is expected to ship on July 2, 2010.

The new NFPA 88A codes ensure parking garages are fire-safe and provide requirements concerning the construction and protection of open and enclosed parking structures, as well as the control of hazards.

Reorganized for consistency with NFPA 101® and NFPA 5000®, the new edition includes:

• A new chapter on Special Structures including first-time definitions and requirements for the new genre of parking structures termed “Automated Mechanical Type Parking Structures”
• Updated definitions based on current industry best practices

Mr. Gerhard Haag, working with members of the Automated and Mechanical Parking Association and Mr. Don Monahan representing the National Parking Association, was instrumental in getting the needs of the automated parking industry recognized in this key international code. Mr. Haag is the CEO of Robotic Parking Systems and a member of the NFPA Garage and Parking Structures Committee. Mr. Monahan is a Vice President of Walker Parking Consultants, Inc.

Click here to order a copy of the 2011 Edition of NFPA 88A.

Preserving Threatened Historic Districts

The Old City of Damascus became a development target as the Syrian economy began to open up in the 1990s. While the area is now a popular tourist destination, its historic architecture remains threatened. In 2002 and again in 2008, the World Monuments Fund put Old Damascus on its Watch List of heritage sites “threatened by neglect, demolition, or disaster.” In some cases, old buildings were razed to make way for newly constructed establishments. Others involved the hasty restoration and conversion of historic courtyard houses. With a lack of technical expertise, cheap concrete has replaced stone and mud brick. 

The Aga Khan Development Network, the organization that promotes the preservation of Islamic heritage, is hoping to demonstrate a new development model for the area. The group is in the midst of slowly and judiciously restoring three of the Old City’s most splendid late-Ottoman houses. All three will reopen collectively as a luxury hotel.

The dwellings date to the mid-18th to late 19th centuries and once housed affluent merchant families and, in later years, the first European consuls to Damascus. They are mansions really, with sprawling courtyards, ornate receiving rooms, and the traditional, environmentally adaptive layout of traditional Damascene architecture. The high, open alcove, or liwan, off the courtyard stays shady throughout hot summer days, while interior and upstairs rooms receive sunlight through the winter, warming the mud brick and stone walls.

Begun in 2008, the AKDN project is slated to be finished in 2012. Galleries, cafés, and “showrooms” to Damascene architecture will fill the traditional greeting rooms on the ground floors of the two-story houses. Unlike some conversions that use concrete, the AKDN’s hotel will feature traditional building materials installed by skilled craftsmen.

Parking for businesses and tourists in historic districts is a major challenge for architects and developers. No one wants to see an ugly concrete parking structure that is totally out of character for the area. This is where Robotic Parking Systems can help. An automated parking structure can store twice as many cars in half the space so the footprint required for the parking facility can be much smaller. Additionally, the facade can be completely customized to fit the architecture of the area.

Via: Architectural Record

Greener Urban Areas – Eco-Boulevards

Each year the jury of the The Buckminster Fuller Challenge awards $100,000 in prize money to honor and encourage further development of the winner’s work. Finalists provide a workable solution to one of the world’s most significant challenges such as water scarcity, food supply, or energy consumption.

One of this year’s finalists was Eco-Boulevards from Sarah Dunn and Martin Felsen of UrbanLab, a research-based architecture and urban design practice. (

Chicago discards over one billion gallons of Great Lakes water per day. This “wastewater” never replenishes one of the world’s most vital resources.

The Eco-Boulevard concept transforms existing roadways, sidewalks and parks, which comprise more than a third of the land in a city such as Chicago, into a passive bio-system for filtering / recycling water, promoting walking / biking, and fostering green-jobs. Treated water is then returned to the Great Lakes, closing Chicago’s water loop.

All urban areas can benefit from more green spaces, safe places for walking / biking and common areas in which people can interact. Just imagine taking half of the space used by downtown parking and turning this into parks, walking paths or other open areas for people. Think it can’t be done? Automated, robotic parking garages can reduce the space needed for parking by 50%. This creates space for greener cities and systems such as Eco-Boulevards while still reducing the traffic congestion and pollution of people driving around looking for parking places.

Oil from Spill Could Have Powered 105,000 Cars for a Year

As of today (Thursday, June 17th), if all the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico had been used for fuel, it could have powered 105,000 cars and 8,800 trucks for a full year plus 146 container ship days, according to University of Delaware Prof. James J. Corbett. That’s based on scientists’ recently updated (June 15th) average estimated spill rate of 50,000 barrels of oil per day.

Corbett, a professor of marine policy in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, works on energy and environmental solutions for transportation. He launched a website that reports the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in terms of lost uses of the lost fuel on a daily basis. (

Here are just a few of Corbett’s findings:

* By May 5 (15 days after the spill), the oil lost could have fueled 470 container ships serving New York and New Jersey ports for a year.
* By May 31 (41 days after the spill), the lost energy could have fueled one freight truck on 17 trips across all 4 million miles of U.S. highway.

Corbett says he developed the website to help put the oil spill in a perspective to which everyday users of petroleum, including most Americans, can relate.

This oil spill is of particular interest to Robotic Parking Systems for numerous reasons. One reason is that our 100,000 square foot manufacturing facility and corporate offices are located on the Gulf coast of Florida in the Clearwater – Tampa Bay area. We’re fortunate so far that the spill is still quite some distance away from us, and our shores have not yet been directly impacted.

Additionally, Robotic Parking Systems has always worked to contribute to the green building efforts of architects and developers to create greener and more livable cities.  By parking twice as many cars in half the space, our automated parking garages helps builders achieve additional green space or use the space created to provide other benefits for their projects or the community. This robotic technology significantly reduces gas consumption, carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases.

More economical uses of petroleum and other energy resources will reduce the need for future deep water oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.