Automated Parking

Automated Parking Systems

Automated parking is the automated storage or parking of vehicles with no human intervention. The technology used to do this is based on FATA’s automated warehousing technology and FATA produces several different technologies used in its automated parking systems. From a driver’s perspective, they simply park their vehicles in a parking module, similar to pulling into a single garage, and are guided to the correct parking position by sensors via a display sign. The drivers switch off their engines, all vehicle occupants leave the parking module, and the parking module door is closed to secure the module. Once the module is secured, the vehicle is removed from the parking module and stored. When drivers return and request their vehicles, the vehicle is returned to a parking module, ready to be driven away. Since there is no requirement for ramps, driveways and personnel access to the parking areas, FATA’s automated parking systems can park twice the number of vehicles in the same volume as conventional parking. Or, conversely, park the same number of vehicles in half the volume.

Some of the potential advantages of FATA’s automated parking systems over conventional parking are:

  • Reduced construction costs through less excavation, air rights saving and less construction time
  • Reduced operating costs through accelerated depreciation, lower ventilation and lighting requirements, lower operator costs and reduced insurance premiums
  • Reduced land cost due to smaller footprint
  • Added value from the space gained providing more leasable or sellable real estate
  • Improved entitlements for developers
  • More LEED points available
  • Safe and secure parking for drivers and their vehicles
  • Less CO2 emissions and more green spaces
  • All parking spaces can be ADA compliant

The different types of Automated Parking Systems that FATA has to offer are:

Crane parking systems utilize a single mechanism to simultaneously perform the horizontal and vertical movements of the vehicle to be parked or retrieved in the parking system. The simultaneous horizontal and vertical movements allow the vehicle platform to move to and from one parking spot to another very quickly. The crane mechanism moves horizontally on rails, typically located on the floor and ceiling of the parking system, and has a vertical elevator platform fitted where vehicles to be parked and retrieved are placed. This means that a floor-to-ceiling opening in the center of the system is required for the crane(s) to operate.

The crane mechanism can move in line with the normal direction of a vehicle (a longitudinal system) or orthogonal to it, i.e. sideways (a transverse system) depending on the site constraints. If higher throughput or redundancy is required, crane systems can also have two cranes running parallel to one another should the site constraints allow it. As there is typically only one mechanism for the parking and retrieval of vehicles the system redundancy is potentially low but back-up motors, switches, etc. can be installed to increase the system’s redundancy. Turning devices can be fitted under the vertical elevator platform should this be required.

Puzzle systems offer the densest form of automated parking, typically utilizing around 95% of the floor area, and are often used in smaller systems. In a horizontal puzzle system a grid of pallets covers a solid floor, or steel frame, and each pallet is supported by a set of rollers and belts that are driven by motors fitted to the support frames underneath each pallet location. The rollers and belts maneuver the pallets until the pallet with the required vehicle on is maneuvered to the desired location, e.g. parking module, elevator, etc. The pallet support frames are installed in all possible parking positions and typically there are two fewer pallets than support frames per floor which provides the necessary free spaces to maneuver the pallets.

Puzzle systems also provide flexible layout options as the system configuration is highly adaptable as a pallet can be maneuvered from one support frame to an adjacent on in any direction. This means the system shape can vary greatly, instead of being rectangular or square, puzzle systems can also be “T” shaped, “U” shaped, “L” shaped, “H” shaped, etc. as long as there is a route for pallets to get from their current location to their destination location via an adjacent support frame. This also makes maneuvering around structural members possible that may not otherwise be possible with other system types.

Scissor lifts are typically used in puzzle systems as they allow the pallets to move on and off the lift platforms in all directions. Electrical cantilevered lifts can also be used but the pallet movements on and off the lift platform are more restricted. Turning the vehicles can be done in the parking module, on an elevator, or within the parking system.

Shuttle systems utilize autonomous shuttles and elevators to park and retrieve vehicles. The number of shuttles in the system is typically flexible and is based around the client’s throughput and budgetary requirements. The shuttles move horizontally in a shuttle lane, which is either a recess in a solid floor or a set of rails in a steel or concrete structure, to a designated location. A robot, or pallet exchanger, or conveyor belts, located on the shuttle then park or retrieve a vehicle at the designated location by moving the vehicle from or to the shuttle and the parking space.

Typically there is a single row of vehicles either side of the shuttle lane but for increased parking density a second row of vehicles can be added. The retrieval process for the second row of vehicles is slower than for the first row as the robot has a longer distance to travel to retrieve the vehicle and there may be a vehicle parked in the front of the vehicle to be retrieved, which has to be removed before the vehicle in the second row can be retrieved. A third row of cars can be added but the retrieval process is very slow.

When a vehicle is required to be moved from one level of the system to another there are two options for achieving this, one with vehicle elevators and the other with shuttle elevators.

When vehicle elevators are used a shuttle moves adjacent to a vehicle elevator and deposits the vehicle on the vehicle elevator platform. The vehicle elevator then moves the vehicle to the designated parking level and another shuttle collects the vehicle from the vehicle elevator. In this option shuttles remain on their assigned levels, therefore at least one shuttle is required per parking level which can make redundancy an issue if only one shuttle is used per level. The system throughput can be very high when vehicle elevators are used in this configuration.

When shuttle elevators are used the shuttle moves with the vehicle on to a shuttle elevator located at either end of the shuttle lane. The shuttle elevator moves to the designated level whereupon the shuttle with the vehicle moves off the shuttle elevator to a designated location. In this option the shuttles are free to go to and from any level in the system allowing for fewer shuttles than parking levels and greater redundancy. However the shuttle elevators are often the system bottlenecks and throughput is much lower than with vehicle elevators. Turning the vehicles can be done in the parking module, on a shuttle or at a location within the parking system. 

Silo systems are cylindrical systems typically with a single, centrally positioned mechanism used to park and retrieve vehicles. The central mechanism moves vertically and rotates simultaneously allowing the vehicle platform to move to and from one parking spot to another very quickly. Typically silo systems are installed underground, and are most suitable where soil conditions are particularly unfavorable, but can also be installed above ground.

Single or multiple parking modules are possible with silo systems but typically only one vehicle can be parked or retrieved at one time. As there is only one mechanism for parking and retrieving vehicles, and little possibility of adding another, system redundancy can be an issue.

Tower systems typically consist of a vehicle elevator with a parking space either side of the elevator shaft. This configuration is repeated over a number of levels to complete the parking tower. Typically there is a parking module located on the ground floor, where the vehicle is turned, and the vehicle elevator simple raises to one of the parking levels of the tower and deposits the vehicle sideways into a parking space. This process is reversed to retrieve a vehicle. As there is a single mechanism to park and retrieve vehicles system redundancy is an issue with tower systems.

Automated Parking Project

Brooklyn Automated Parking Case Study

FATA Automation was challenged to develop an automated parking system for a medical facility in Brooklyn, New York.  The area has no parking available, and the new building could not be made taller to accommodate a parking deck, due to city ordinances.

This left the Owner with only one option – Dig 3 levels under the building and install automated parking to get the vehicles down there and to park the greatest possible number of vehicles in the smallest space.

The system developed by FATA uses two Entry Modules / elevators that simultaneously lower the vehicle to a rack structure below, and rotate the vehicle to facilitate loading to FATA’s shuttle.  Once the vehicle has been lowered to the chosen level, it gets loaded to the shuttle with dolly, and loaded into a parking space in the rack structure.

In order to make retrieval of the vehicles fast and efficient, FATA also developed software that works in a “traffic cop” fashion to make and change decisions on which vehicle goes when – keeping cycle times fast and customer wait times as short as possible.

The system parks 131 vehicles and is expected to be operational in the Summer of 2019.

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