The Future of City Parking – Robot Car Valets to The Rescue

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Parking today is a daily challenge for most city-dwellers, and you have probably experienced it yourself.

Who hasn’t driven around countless streets or scaled level after level of a multi-story car park, competing with other drivers to find that elusive parking space?

As the demand for commercial and residential real estate soars, traditional urban car parks have rapidly been disappearing, and yet a growing global population and the dramatic increase in multi-car households means more pressure on physical locations.

The number of cars in the U.S. has grown from around 200 million in 1990 to nearly 300 million today, and in the UK the figure has also risen by 41% in 25 years.

If you can’t build out, build up, and artificial intelligence (AI) with the power of the Internet of Things (IoT) is leading to driver-friendly automated parking systems (APS) is set to transform how we use cars in built-up areas.

Already adopted in a handful of cities across the United States and, of course, tech-loving Japan, the widespread usage of advanced smart car parks looks set to change our urban parking landscapes forever.

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Key Takeaways

  • Automated Parking Systems are set to change the urban parking landscape — the industry is expected to grow $1.67b to $6.78b by 2032.
  • AI-powered solutions will maximize onsite parking storage capacity through advanced stacking techniques.
  • Car owners drive onto a pallet before robots elevate, rotate, and position vehicles according to size, weight, and shape.
  • Considered safer, greener, and ultra-efficient, APS is spreading in cities across the world.

What are Automated Parking Systems?

Automated parking systems aren’t new. In fact, the concept was first developed nearly 120 years ago by French architect Auguste Perret in Paris.

Credited as the first APS car park in 1905, Garage Rue de Ponthieu was a multi-story concrete car park that utilized an internal lift to transport vehicles from street level to the spaces on the upper levels.

Granted, technically, the system wasn’t fully automated as drivers were then employed to park the cars manually… but the premise of space-saving parking was born.

Fast forward to 2024, and AI-enabled APS car parks are equipped with advanced robotic systems that efficiently and autonomously park and retrieve vehicles. Drivers simply park the car on a pallet or lift platform, and the automated system does the rest.

Once collected, vehicles are stacked side-by-side or elevated above each other to optimize a car park’s parking capacity. In some cases, APS can stack up to six cars in the same space occupied by two vehicles in a traditional car park.

Not only is APS credited as being a space saver, but it’s also secure, safer for drivers, far more eco-friendly, and can be used both commercially and at home.

Soon, the days of forgetting where you’ve parked the car will be a distant memory, as automated robot valets return your vehicle at the touch of a button or a click of an app.

Residential blocks are installing APS in Manhattan, and other places like Los Angeles and Brooklyn have also bought in the parking system. In the UK, the first APS system is being built in Nuneaton.

Varieties of Automated Parking Systems and How They Work

On a primitive level, we’ve long been accustomed to the introduction of lights indicating empty parking spaces. However, modern-day automated parking systems take all the strain out of circling vast car parks in the race with other drivers to an empty bay.

The premise of AI-driven APS fundamentally relies on its ability to stack and pack cars symmetrically, storing the maximum number of vehicles on a premise. Without drivers needing to get in and out of the vehicle, cars and vans can be parked inches apart and often directly above each other.

While there are several variations in the parking formats available with APS, two core methods are used when maneuvering vehicles around.

Popular in cities for their compact format, silo or tower-like parking systems primarily use lifts that can operate vertically and, in some cases, horizontally to slide vehicles into predetermined slots throughout the grid system parking complex.

Here, you can simply drive your car onto an elevator or platform before AI allocates a vehicle identification tag and whisks it away, storing it safely until you return.

When you return, these automated parking systems use real-time IoT sensors and image recognition to locate your car before retrieving it and delivering it back to you at street level.

Alternatively, shuttle and puzzle parking systems often rely on a pallet system or autonomous mobile robots (AMR) that can lift, manoeuvre, and then rotate a vehicle 360 degrees and slide it into place based on your vehicle’s size, weight, and shape.

Private Home and Business Parking Solutions

Even with the increasing number of smart car parks springing up around the world, the stacked car parking system isn’t limited to just commercial or industrial vehicle storage.

For example, in the UK, companies like Lift Giant and Parking Lift Solutions provide bespoke solutions for both residential and private business parking demands.

With the rise in multi-car households, car platform lifts are becoming increasingly popular.

Double and triple-decker car portals allow private residents and garage owners to safely store up to three vehicles, one above the other, in the same space conventionally used to park just one car.

Not only does this maximize a property’s parking capacity – but when your vehicle is elevated or parked below ground, it also acts as a highly effective theft deterrent.

The Bottom Line

The ability to store more cars off our roads with sensible, space-saving APS solutions is proving to be a massive incentive to governments and urban planners globally.

Whether it’s the safety aspect of decreasing congestion or the reduction of pollution (as robotic valets park the cars with the engines turned off), automated parking systems seem to be the way forward.

The advanced benefits of APS are also clearly reflected by the industry’s projected market value.

Estimated to be worth $1.67 billion in 2022, experts now believe this will quadruple to $6.78 billion by 2032.

Adding robot valets to aid in the speed and efficiency of parking in our towns and cities should soon take the stress out of urban parking. After all, negating the worry of accidental dents and dings from other careless drivers or remembering where you parked your car will no doubt make a refreshing change to all our lives.

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Stuart Hughes
Technology Writer
Stuart Hughes
Technology Writer

A graduate of Canterbury Christ Church University, Stuart Hughes is a freelance writer across technology, finance and travel.