An automated (car) parking system (APS) is a mechanical system designed to minimize the area and/or volume required for parking cars. Like a multi-story parking garage, an APS provides parking for cars on multiple levels stacked vertically to maximize the number of parking spaces while minimizing land usage. The APS, however, utilizes a mechanical system to transport cars to and from parking spaces (rather than the driver) in order to eliminate much of the space wasted in a multi-story parking garage. While a multi-story parking garage is similar to multiple parking lots stacked vertically, an APS is more similar to an automated storage and retrieval system for cars.
All APS take advantage of a common concept to decrease the area of parking spaces – removing the driver and passengers from the car before it is parked. With either fully automated or semi-automated APS, the car is driven up to an entry point to the APS and the driver and passengers exit the car. The car is then moved automatically or semi-automatically (with some attendant action required) to its parking space.
The space saving provided by the APS, compared to the multi-story parking garage, is derived primarily from a significant reduction in space not directly related to the parking of the car:
- Parking space width and depth (and distances between parking spaces) are dramatically reduced since no allowance need be made for driving the car into the parking space or for the opening of car doors (for drivers and passengers)
No driving lanes or ramps are needed to drive the car to/from the entrance/exit to a parking space
- Ceiling height is minimized since there is no pedestrian traffic (drivers and passengers) in the parking area, and No walkways, stairways or elevators are needed to accommodate pedestrians in the parking area.
- With the elimination of ramps, driving lanes, pedestrians and the reduction in ceiling heights, the APS requires substantially less structural material than the multi-story parking garage. Many APS utilize a steel framework (some use thin concrete slabs) rather than the monolithic concrete design of the multi-story parking garage. These factors contribute to an overall volume reduction and further space savings for the APS
Benefits of APS
In addition to the space saving, many APS designs provide a number of secondary benefits:
- The parked cars and their contents are more secure since there is no public access to parked cars
- Minor parking lot damage such as scrapes and dents are eliminated
- Drivers and passengers are safer not having to walk through parking lots or garages
- Driving around in search of a parking space is eliminated, thereby reducing engine emissions
- Only minimal ventilation and lighting systems are needed
- Handicap access is improved
- The volume and visual impact of the parking structure is minimized
Shorter construction time