The Mechanical Marvels

Automated Parking systems are making a big splash in the main stream media. A new installation in the San Fernando Valley brought out the TV cameras the other day and a condo installation in Manhattan tickled the fancy of the New York Times.

As I predicted in this space a few years back, these systems are coming, but in specific applications. In both the cases mentioned, the installation was small, as few as 20 spaces in one case. However the automated systems most likely enabled the developer to build the project, since parking requirements in many cases stopped the project since there was not enough room.

The MSM is happy to pan the projects when the slightest thing goes wrong. A system installed in a UCLA medical clinic had a hiccup for a few minutes and from the local headlines you would have thought that cars were crushed and people maimed. Of course none of that happened and the machine was back on line in a few minutes.

In these cases, the press is looking toward how fancy it is that the owner of a multi million dollar apartment in New York can park their Bentley or Maserati in a space that actually cost more than the car. The spaces are selling for upwards of half a million.

Convenience is also stressed, since the Mercedes AMG  can be parked in a spot and then whisked away without having to trust a Valet with its pedigreed finish.  No “Ferris Bueller” cruising around town in a Ferrari from these garages.

They were also impressed that the condo owner could hit a button and have his car waiting when the elevator doors opened. However it was noted that the developer opted to turn off that fancy feature, as there was fear that cars would begin to stack up on the street like brooms chasing the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

There are a number of larger installations under way in cities across the fruited plain, but we will continue to see this technology grow in small, focused applications where there is no alternative.

The security, environmental, and convenience benefits of automated systems have not gone away, but there is something about giving your car to a machine that makes some drivers pale.

JVH

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