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Want autonomous cars? Start with autonomous parking

Want autonomous cars? Start with autonomous parking
Before autonomous cars become an everyday reality, the right autonomous parking system should be in place to make sure seamless functioning.
Smart parking solutions are all about making the whole process of car parking efficient and more profitable. So far, this has included the use of sensors to let drivers know where vacant spots are available, automated systems that can read license plates and identify people, and automated payment systems that require minimum human intervention.

However, we are still talking about a system that makes a person driving the car to the parking spot a necessity. This could change, though, as developments in the autonomous solutions field enable a parking lot to function on its own.

The process of self-parking lots

Nada Ivkovic is the VP of Constructions Operations at Automotion Parking Systems, a New York-based company that provides fully automated rack and rail parking solutions. Speaking to recently, Ivkovic explained what exactly happens in an automated parking lot.   

“This is how our system works,” Ivkovic said. “The driver pulls into the entry and exit room. Light sensors measure the vehicle’s dimensions and, with the help of laser scanners, navigate customers to place the vehicle onto the palette properly. The driver is then prompted to exit the car and answer a couple of safety questions at the kiosk outside of the entry room. The door closes, and laser scanners and motion sensors scan the vehicle and entry room, ensuring the safety of the car, driver, and passengers.” 

The system then photographs the car from several angles. The driver receives the ticket or, in case they use a credit card, a confirmation that the vehicle will be parked. Once the scanners and sensors determine that everything is safe, the palette holding the car is automatically transferred into the system, and the quick change process begins. The occupied palette moves onto the storage and retrieval unit (SRU). Simultaneously, an empty palette is placed on the elevator allowing the system to process multiple cars at the same time.

A car can be rotated either in the entry room or on the SRU during the parking process.   When the driver returns, they simply insert the Automotion ticket or the credit card they used initially to park the vehicle to initiate the process. The system identifies the correct palette, activates the SRU, and delivers the car to the entry and exit room. The driver receives their vehicle in less than two minutes, turned the right way out, without anyone touching it.

Factors necessary to make it work

The software is responsible for making sure that all system’s safety features work in conjunction with the technology so that there is no chance of any damage to the customer’s property. It is also responsible for marking and recognizing each vehicle as well as the locations of empty palettes in the system for the most efficient storage and retrieval operation.

“The key to our success is putting all these components together and programming that makes it reliable,” Ivkovic added. “Most of our competitors have not figured out the reliability of movements and variables required to park in or out the vehicles based on the multitude of types of vehicles in the marketplace. In addition to our system, we provide cash management software, yet another state-of-the-art high-tech component integrated into the system’s software for flawless communication between the customer and the system. The only interaction between the customer and our automated garage is the entry room and the kiosk outside of it.”

Of course, such solutions do need around-the-clock customer service with real people who can monitor and ensure nothing goes wrong. Combined with support staff, an autonomous solution is an efficient answer to modern parking woes

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