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Thread: Chinatown Robot Parking Garage

  1. #1

    Default Chinatown Robot Parking Garage

    AM New York
    January 30, 2007

    Robot parking garage to open in Chinatown

    The Associated Press

    A construction worker watches as a robotic steel pallet lowers a vehicle into a completely automated parking garage in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2007. The automated parking system is the first of its kind in the United States.

    Would you trust a robot to park your car? The question will confront New Yorkers in February as the city's first robotic parking opens in Chinatown. The technology has had a good track record overseas, but the only other public robotic garage in the United States has been troublesome, dropping vehicles and trapping cars because of technical glitches.

    Nonetheless, the developers of the Chinatown garage are confident with the technology and are counting on it to squeeze 67 cars in an apartment-building basement that would otherwise fit only 24, accomplished by removing a ramp and maneuver space normally required.

    A humanoid robot valet won't be stepping into your car to drive it.

    Rather, 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 contraption similar to an elevator that also runs sideways.

    There is no human supervision, but an attendant will be on hand to accept cash and explain the system to baffled humans.

    Parking rates will be competitive -- about $400 monthly or $25 per day, according to Ari Milstein, the director of planning for Automotion Parking Systems, the U.S. subsidiary of Germany's Stolzer Parkhaus, which has built automated garages in several countries overseas and in the United States for residents of a Washington, D.C., apartment building.

    Another company had built the only other public robotic garage in the United States, the one with a checkered past.

    Built in 2002 across the river in Hoboken, N.J., with 314 spaces for monthly rentals only, the garage dropped an unoccupied Cadillac Deville six floors in 2004 and a Jeep four stories the following year. Early last year, a malfunction that went unrepaired for 26 hours trapped cars inside.

    This summer, the city of Hoboken tried to wrest control of the garage from its builder, Robotic Parking Systems Inc. of Clearwater, Fla., and an ensuing court battle shut it down for two weeks, trapping some cars inside. The garage is closed until Thursday as the city replaces the controlling software, city spokesman Bill Campbell said.

    Dennis Clarke, the chief operating officer at Robotic Parking, acknowledged the operational problems, but said the garage has operated with "99.99 percent efficiency." He called the 26-hour outage a freak incident, where two redundant sensors failed at the same time and a maintenance crew failed to follow company policy in not repairing them right away.

    The company's current generation of garages is much improved, Clarke added.

    "Software-wise, machinery-wise, everything that has ever given us a problem has been designed out of the system," Clarke said.

    Automotion's Milstein said that in the 11 years Stolzer Parkhaus has built robotic garages, only one car has been damaged, in an incident involving a half-set parking brake. Even that loophole has now been eliminated with the addition of an additional sensor, he said.

    "It is a complete virtual impossibility that damage can occur," he said.

    If the garage lives up to that claim, it would certainly be a safety record unheard of for traditional garages, where not only cars but people get hurt and even killed. Even the Hoboken garage may not look like a disaster by comparison, though it's rare for a conventional garage not to give your car back.

    The two loading bays in the Chinatown garage are outfitted with enough laser and radar sensors to make Fort Knox jealous. They sense if the car fits on the pallet (it's large enough for medium-sized SUVs) and look for movement to determine whether the driver and passenger have left the car. When the car is properly parked on the pallet, the driver is told to exit the car and leave the bay, and a door closes behind him or her before the pallet descends into the garage.

    When the driver comes back for the car, the underground system goes into motion to retrieve it. Because it parks cars two deep in some slots, it sometimes needs to shuffle cars around to retrieve others. The software figures all that out.

    In a touch worthy of Inspector Gadget, an underground turntable turns the car around before it's lifted to the surface, ensuring that it's returned facing out into the driveway, eliminating any need to back out of the garage.

    Clarke at Robotic Parking Systems said demand for robotic parking is booming in the country after long lagging behind other developed countries.

    The company just finished shipping a 900-car garage to Dubai and signed a deal for a 1,200-car garage for the United Arab Emirates, is working on several U.S. projects, including one 229-car garage at the Hollywood Grande resort in Florida.

    "Demand is such that they're really stacking up on us," Clarke said. "What seems to have happened is that the developers have been wanting this for a long time, but the architects have been lagging behind. Architects use the same plans over and over, particularly when it comes to parking in a garage."

    Copyright 2007 AM New York

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Yonkers/ Hell's Kitchen

    Post In awe.

    Asian technology is amazing.

  3. #3
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003


    I believe it is German.

  4. #4

  5. #5
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003



    We have a winner!!!!

    And the whole Hoboken thing is a nightmare, due mostly to our own infighting bureaucracy.

    We have a bunch of guys out here that don't like being told how to do things. I would bet money that someone did something they were not supposed to and caused that little accident. Germans are particularly anal about their construction and maintenance (you should see their licensing requirements!), I doubt that they would have allowed errors large enough to cause something like that to happen.
    Last edited by Ninjahedge; January 30th, 2007 at 02:42 PM.

  6. #6


    dropping vehicles


  7. #7

    Default scratches

    if this reduces the # of scratches that get put on my car at the garage, it is worth a lot more than $400/month

  8. #8


    It's not only the robots who drop cars. I came home one night to my old apt, and there was a full equipment display (Police, Fire, Reporters, the whole shebang) down the block at Lexington.

    There was a multistory garage there, the kind with elevators. Apparently some woman drove into the elevator shaft while the elevator was on another floor, and made a quick trip to the basement.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post


  9. #9
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    in Limbo


    The building where this auto parking garage is 123 Baxter.

  10. #10
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    The now-finished building wishes it looked that ^^^ good.

    btw: The garage is at the lower right in that rendering.

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