Saving space, reducing costs and a pleasant user experience – parking doesn’t get much better than this.
Cityscapes around the world are changing, architects face the constant challenge of integrating parking space into new or existing real estate in densely built-up urban environments. While there is a growing ambition to replace cars as a prime mobility tool, we’re far from realizing this goal. Most downtown revitalizations today require structured parking. Where space is tight, access ramp or radius of a conventional parking garage may be hard to fit. Because robotic parking systems require neither these nor access for pedestrians, they can place up to 60% more cars in the same space – increasing the RoI on parking spaces Alternatively, the same number of cars can be parked in 60% of the space of a conventional parking garage, creating significant cost savings in the construction phase. In either case, the user experience in robotic parking systems – brightly lit entrance areas, safe vehicle retrieval processes and reduced car fumes as the search for parking is effectively eliminated – is second to none.
Ambitious architecture projects on both sides of the pond lead the way. In 2015, Schmidt Hammer Lassen opened Dokk1 in Arhus, Denmark. As Scandinavia's largest public library, it represents a new generation of modern hybrid libraries. The 35,000 square meter building also houses a robotic parking system, with close to a thousand parking spaces.
Situated at the mouth of the Aarhus River it is located in one of the most prominent sites of the city. The parking facility, built by German manufacturer Lödige Industries fulfills an important function for the building. Glass doors, brightly lit areas, and a comfortable and friendly user experience are the hallmark of the system and continue to please both users and the owners of the building.
Peter Kjølby, COO of Realdania By & Byg, confirms: “Our ambition was to provide a parking solution that will set new standards of parking comfort by rethinking the process from the user angle, and which by the rational use of space will make more room for the life of the city. The automated parking facility Lödige Industries has built for us echoes this and continues to deliver on this day in and out.”
In the US, similar facilities are already in operation in New York, Chicago and Detroit, though perhaps on the same scale in terms of parking spaces. Located largely in luxury residential buildings, the design and user comfort are on par with its European counterparts, though.
Park and Hide – Removing Structured Parking from Urban Cityscapes
In what has been dubbed the "Park & Hide" principle, the parking user drives the car into a parking cabin thereby placing the vehicle on a lifting platform. After leaving the parking cabin, a roller shutter is closed and automatic parking begins. Only then does the platform lower the vehicle onto the level on which it is to be parked.
The average duration of a parking process in DOKK1 is just 107 seconds, with 20 cabins available, queues are a rare occurrence. Up to 972 cars can be parked at any given moment in the three levels of the facility. 24 transfer vehicles are operating in two aisles. State-of-the-art scanning technology ensures the cars enter the system safely, while the algorithms of Lödige Industries’ proprietary management software ensures they are parked in the best possible space given current levels of usage and retrieval patterns. Average retrieval speed is 120 seconds, due in large part to the palletless technology employed by Lödige Industries. Using a flat robot, called a ‘shifter’, cars are held only by their tires, where they would naturally touch the roads. The transfer vehicles transport them at a constant speed of 2 meters per second. In three years, approximately 1 million cars have been parked. Complex algorithms ensure parking spaces are chosen in the most efficient manner. The precise parking provided by state-of-the-art robots eliminates damage to the vehicles. Under a long-term 24/7 service contract, Lödige Industries continues to guarantee immediate assistance and repair in the event of a potential incident.
In North America, the same company is currently constructing systems in New York, Boston, Ottawa, and Toronto, providing close to 500 robotic parking slots in a variety of mixed-use and residential properties. Robotic parking, it seems, is set to make an important contribution to the US urban landscape.