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Focus on Automatic/Mechanical Parking - Hoboken Almost Online

By John Carter

As Parking Today goes to press, the long-awaited Hoboken Automated Garage, the first fully automated parking garage in America, is going through its final shakedown at the hands of its creator, Gerhard Haag of Robotic Parking Inc., for a probable opening later this month.
The new mayor, Dave Roberts, and Frank Turso, the new Chairman of the Hoboken Parking authority, are particularly proud of having gotten the project back on track after Belcore-Megan, the original general contractor, defaulted
After a recent "sneak preview" visit to the site by several city officials, Mayor Roberts commented, "Incredible!" and Mr. Turso said, "When Haag and his team are done with their testing, the City of Hoboken will be ready to proudly announce the first fully automated parking system in the U.S. is open and ready for business."
Instead of ramps, entrance and exit lanes, and the rest, the entrance to the garage is simplicity itself. The driver puts his or her car in one of four bays and inserts a key card into a slot. The car, now protected on a steel pallet, is lifted under computer guidance into one of the available slots in the heart of the building.
When the driver wants the car back, he enters the lobby, inserts his card and security code and gets directed to one of the bays designated as an exit, and the Robotic computer finds the car, brings it down to the exit bay, and delivers it with the front conveniently pointing toward the street, for leaving.
Haag, the president of Robotic Parking, gives credit to General Electric experts, who have helped support the project and provided the servos, controls and the software operating system on which Robotic has built its proprietary software. "At one point there were all sorts of 'consultants' hanging around the Hoboken Parking Authority and claiming to be ex-perts," says Haag. "It was the GE engineers we worked with who had the real practical knowledge that permitted Robotic's breakthroughs on this."
Of course, multiple redundancy in all the systems ensures that if one computer fails, three to four backup systems are ready to take over, including interior video monitors and a 24-hour attendant to ensure that lost key cards and similar mishaps do not come up against a purely mechanical interface.
The project is being watched eagerly by other cities and facilities located where space is at a premium. Haag says the relative lack of space in Europe has been one reason why automated parking was established there before it has come to the U.S., but that current levels of development make an automated system much more attractive.

John Carter is a freelance writer specializing in architecture and financial subjects.

Article Abstract from March, 2002




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