Simon’s Backup Weblog


I for one welcome our new robotic parking overlords

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on February 6, 2007

There’s a new automated parking garage in New York.

Just drive in your car, leave it on a parking bay, and it’ll be shuffled and stored underground in a set of docking bays reminiscent of Battlestar Galactica…

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 typically 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 spot by a computer-controlled contraption similar to an elevator that also runs sideways.

[…]

The two loading bays in the Chinatown garage are outfitted with enough laser and radar sensors to make Fort Knox jealous. They sense whether 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 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.

Let’s hope it’s a bit more successful than another robot garage, which ended up dropping cars down shafts, a saga which culminated in the operator suing the developer for the source code – trapping cars inside the garage while lawyers went into action.

Hmmm.

Lawyers versus robots.

Now that’s a B-movie I want to see…

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9 Responses to 'I for one welcome our new robotic parking overlords'

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  1. ajshepherd said,

    Didn’t I see something like that in an episode of Thunderbirds?

  2. sbisson said,

    Life recapitulates Derek Meddings’ special effects…

  3. purplecthulhu said,

    Lawyers versus robots.

    My money’s on the robots – unless the lawyers manage to tie up the three laws with lots of nested subclauses, schedules and footnotes.

  4. natalief said,

    Lawyers versus robots.

    Now that’s a B-movie I want to see…

    ..along with the scenario of the driver not getting out of the car in time before it is ‘parked’ and the shinanegans that follow as they try to get out of the carpark … with A-Team style hijack and modification of the car valet robot to boot!

  5. natalief said,

    “unless the lawyers manage to tie up the three laws with lots of nested subclauses, schedules and footnotes.”

    Which they will, of course…

  6. purplecthulhu said,

    Not if the robots get to them first!

  7. micheinnz said,

    The mechanical geek in me is thinking “oooh, so many moving parts — I hope they have an extremely aggressive maintenance schedule!”

  8. anonymous said,

    Dear Simon,

    As the CEO of Automotion Parking Systems,I am keenly aware of the New Jersey Garage. It always surprises me that when a developer uses new technology from a firm with no proven track record of building systems and then it fails, everyone then judges the entire industry by that failure. So let’s look at the statisitcs.

    Stopa, the manufacturer of the equipment, has been in the automated material handling business for over 30 years, It is the same technology of computers and machines that evolved into the firms automated garage business some 13 years ago. The firm has sucessfully developed 32 garages in 11 countries without a mechanical failure, ever! The technology is proven and reliable.

    The Hoboken system was designed by a machinist/engineer who applied principal without a proven system. The only large scale system by the firm was in Hoboken and as of today it is still closed.

    They have a great marketing team, who will sell anything and since, most people want to believe in the technology, they will. I for one, spent 2 years researching firms in the field, and settled on partnering with a firm which has a proven track record. This is the most important aspect when buying technology.

    Would you buy a computer from John’s computer shop which was built with reliable components or a DELL or IBM? When you have a knowledgeable choice, regardless of the manufacturer, a prudent buyer will always take a named brand that has a proven track record in its market sector. AutoMotion and Stopa is the Dell or IBM. A proven and reliable manufacturer and installer of automated components. We invite you to visit the garage and see the system in action.

    I thank you for your thoughts and comments.

    Perry M. Finkelman
    CEO
    AutoMotion Parking Systems

  9. anonymous said,

    Dear Micheinnz,

    To tell you the truth, our system has one of the fewest moving parts of all garage systems on the market today. Stopa has done a detailed analysis of one of the most used parts, the neoprene wheels used to move the vehicles from pallet to pallet. In 10 years of constant usage, the wheels only wore down .10 microns. The system scheduled maintenance takes 30 minutes a month and scheduled routine large scale maintenance takes 2 hours every 10,000 hours of moving operations. Our systems controller is constantly checking sensors, auto misalignments, and are corrected by laser technology that is currently being used by airports to guide jumbo jets to the gate. So, in essence, we are becoming like a maytag repairman:lots of training and very little work in that area.

    I thank you for your comments and thoughts.

    Perry M. Finkelman
    CEO
    AutoMotion Parking SAystems


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