AUTOMATED PARKING GLOSSARY
Horizontal "Puzzle" (Pallet): These systems gained their “puzzle” nickname because they work like the puzzles where you must reorder the tiles by sliding them east, west, north, or south to form a sequence or a picture.
Instead of one empty space as in tile puzzles, puzzle parking systems typically leave 2 empty spaces to enhance performance. Puzzle systems move the cars using a grid of simple interconnected automated conveyors that slide the steel vehicle pallets (with or without a vehicle on top) east, west, north, and south around the garage. Leaving only 2 empty spaces enables puzzle systems attain unparalleled density as low as ~170 sq ft per car versus ~240 sq ft per car for other automated systems and ~450 sq ft per car in a podium ramp garage.
Additionally, since each space is automated, there is no time lost to robots moving back and forth to “dig out” cars one by one (as in other automated parking systems), and the software can usually work around a malfunctioning conveyor until a technician arrives on site.
This all makes puzzle systems uniquely suited for the luxury condominium projects where parking is a coveted amenity, but space is costly and clientele are demanding.
Automated Guided Vehicle or AGV (Pallet or Pallet-less): An Automated Guided Vehicle, or AGV, is a robot that rolls across concrete slabs following wires, barcodes, or RFID transmitters embedded in the slab to navigate. Pallet AGVs lift vehicles that have been parked on top of steel pallets to simplify the lifting and avoid touching the vehicles. Pallet-less AGVs lift the vehicles by pinching its “arms” underneath each vehicle’s tires. Some Pallet-less AGVs opt to position the vehicle on “combs” (i.e. steel tines) mounted in the floor, and the AGVs slide under the vehicle and lift another set of steel tines up through the spaces between the tines the tires are resting on. This method uses more height, and is thus often less popular.
Rail-Guided Crane (Pallet): These systems use a multi-level lift (usually called a “crane” in the industry) rolling on a set of rails mounted to the floor and often also the ceiling of a floor-to-ceiling atrium in the middle of the garage. The Crane typically uses a Satellite to move the vehicle back and forth from its storage space which will be either 1 or 2 spaces deep in a steel rack (or concrete shelves) located on each side of the crane atrium.
These systems are fast for a single retrieval because it combines the vertical movement and lateral movement on one device thereby avoiding time-consuming handoffs. However, since these systems process requests serially (i.e. one at a time) a queue will form if there are multiple requests at once. Additionally, if the crane malfunctions you won’t be able to park or retrieve any cars until a trained technician arrives and goes up to repair the crane wearing a harness.
Rail-Guided Shuttle (Pallet or Pallet-less): Unlike the Rolling Tower Cranes above, Shuttle systems separate the vertical and lateral movement to two separate mechanisms - a stationary lift usually positioned at one or both end(s) of the center atrium or within the vehicle storage rack, and a robotic Shuttle that moves laterally along a pair of rails mounted on each side of the Transit Aisle at each level of the garage. The Shuttle uses a low-profile Satellite to get underneath the vehicle to lift and move it back and forth from its storage space which will be either 1 or 2 spaces deep in a steel rack (or concrete shelves) located on each side of the Shuttle’s Transit Aisle.
Pallet Shuttles lift vehicles that have been parked on top of steel pallets to simplify the lifting and avoid touching the vehicles. Pallet-less Shuttles slide an ultra-low profile Satellite under the vehicle and lift it by pinching its “arms” underneath each vehicle’s tires. Some Pallet-less Shuttle systems opt to position the vehicle on “combs” (i.e. steel tines) mounted in the floor, and use Satellites that slide under the vehicle and lift another set of steel tines up through the spaces between the tines the tires are resting on. This method uses more height, and is thus often less popular.
Since these systems split the lateral movement to independent shuttles on each level, they can process multiple transactions simultaneously provided they are not for vehicles stored on the same level of the garage (or a queue will form). Similarly to rolling cranes, if the shuttle malfunctions, you won’t be able to park or retrieve any cars (from that level) until a trained technician arrives and goes up to repair the shuttle wearing a harness.
System: A collection of structural, mechanical, and software systems designed to automatically store vehicles without human aid.
Driveway: The driveway is the area in front of the system where drivers drive their vehicles as they approach the Entry-Exit Module(s).
Queuing Space: The area in the driveway used to absorb inbound vehicles off of the street. Some municipalities will require enough queuing space to hold a % of the total garage capacity – usually 10% or less. Many municipalities will credit the parking spaces within the Transfer Cabin (defined below) when calculating queuing spaces provided in the design.
Parking Space: A space along side the driveway where driver’s can park their vehicle outside of the system.
Storage Area: The area of the structure where vehicles are stored and retrieved through the use of software and mechanical systems. The only humans that are typically in the storage area are maintenance personnel and fire fighters. Since vehicles are not running in the storage area, there are no exhaust emissions, and thus most municipalities will require only 2 air changes per hour instead of the typical 7 to 10 air changes per hour in a traditional enclosed garage.
Structure: The building designed to house the system. While it will often be housed within a larger building, it may also be free-standing with it’s own roof and façade.
Rack: The rack is a structural system made of steel beams and columns to create the storage area within the parking system. While the rack can be fitted with a façade to create a standalone parking garage, it is often located within a larger building designed for some other use than simply parking vehicles.
Shelving: Instead of using the steel beams and columns employed in a rack, shelving is a structural system made of concrete “shelves” to create the storage area within the parking system. Shelving is typically employed either because it is able to withstand fire, or simply because the developer prefers to build with concrete. While the shelving can be fitted with a façade to create a standalone parking garage, it is often located within a larger building designed for some other use than simply parking vehicles.
Slabs: In rare cases, certain structures require the use of solid concrete slabs under each level of the parking system - either for lateral support or to comply with strict local fire codes. Most systems can be installed with varying degrees of ease on top of solid concrete slabs, with the exception of the rail-guided pallet rolling tower crane., which requires an open atrium from the lowest to highest levels of the system.
Storage Space: The locations within the rack or shelving structure where vehicles are stored to and retrieved from.
Level: A collection of vehicle storage spaces across a single horizontal plane within within an automated parking system.
Transit Aisle: The transit aisle is the space between each side of the rack (or shelving) within the storage area. This area is used the automated mechanical shuttles to move vehicles laterally (and when lifts are located within this same space – vertically) to the vehicle storage spaces. The transit aisle is most often an atrium (i.e. a void from floor to ceiling) between the storage spaces; however, if local fire codes require, the transit aisle may be located in a concrete trough poured between the storage areas form one end of the system to the other.
Lift Shaft: The lift shaft is a rectangular gap in the storage area structure that is left empty to house the mechanical elements of the lift. The lift shaft is of course theoretical if the lift is located in an atrium-style transit aisle (as described above). The dimensions of this lift shaft will often increase or decrease proportionally as the number of levels in the system, as well as, the width and length of the vehicles increases or decreases.
Control Room: The control room is a secure location designed to house the system’s computer servers, PLC (programmable logic controller), networking equipment, UPS (uninterruptible power supply), and VPN (virtual private network). This is often a separate enclosed space so it can be climate controlled and kept relatively free from dust. Some manufacturers opt instead to install wall-mounted cabinets in a convenient area of the storage area where there is ample space for the cabinet doors to open and for workers to be able to stand safely with fear of being hit by any mechanical element of the system or falling debris from above.
Means of Egress: These are enclosed stairwells used by fire fighters to access each level of the system. Current fire regulations require a minimum two means of egress in every level of the system, but one can be accepted in certain situations. The maximum distance to a means of egress is 150’. If the distance from any point in the system to a means of egress exceeds 150’ then more than two means of egress may be required.
Firefighter Access Path: Many local fire departments will require a path to access vehicles throughout the system in order concentrate stream of water on a burning vehicle with a fire hose. If access is required, it must obviously safely connect to the stairwells. In a rack structure this access may only need to be provided via a horizontal “catwalk” of metal grating positioned along the exterior wall(s). This catwalk may only need to be provided on every other level as a hose can often be sprayed through an open rack from a level above or below. In a shelf structure, the access may be required at every level, as the concrete shelves will block access to vehicles on other levels. If the pouring a concrete trough under the transit aisle on each level is required to prevent the spread of fire, this trough can serve as the firefighter access path. It should be noted that some believe such access is not needed in concrete structures, as there is a 2-hour fire rating formed by the concrete, and the fire should be allowed to simply burn itself out without risking the lives of firefighters.
Note: These items are not presented in alphabetical order, but rather in the order they will be encountered by an inbound vehicle.
External Transfer Cabin Door: This is the automated high-speed roll-up door that separates the inside of the Transfer Cabin from the driveway.
Transfer Cabin: As it’s name suggests, the Transfer Cabin is a designated area for drivers to enter and exit the system. Each Transfer Cabin is typically fully enclosed by 4 walls with automated high-speed roll-up doors on each end to keep humans from encountering the automated machinery.
Vehicle Pallet (or Vehicle Tray): The flat steel surface upon which vehicles are parked by drivers in the Transfer Cabin. Some AGV systems use pallets that have fixed legs to raise them off of the concrete slab and allow the AGV to roll underneath them. Some other AGV and pallet-less systems do not use vehicle pallets at all. The advantage of pallets is that the robotics are always lifting the same sized object, which greatly reduces complexity, and the robotics never tough the vehicle, which greatly reduces risk. The disadvantage of pallets is that once a vehicle exits the transfer cabin, the empty pallet must be stored, which impacts system throughput.
Internal Transfer Cabin Door: This is the automated high-speed roll-up door that separates the inside of the Transfer Cabin from the transit aisle inside the automated parking system’s storage area. Some jurisdictions may require the Internal Transfer Cabin Door to be reinforced to withstand the impact of a vehicle that goes out of control while the driver is entering or exiting the system. Additionally, there may be a further requirement for a second Internal Transfer Cabin Door that is fire-rated in the event a fire breaks out either inside the Transfer Cabin or inside the storage area.
Kiosk: This is usually a wall-mounted user interface with an LCD screen and input buttons that enables the driver to initiate a vehicle storage or retrieval request. There is typically one outside of each transfer cabin, and often another in the parking lobby.
Turntable: A mechanism designed to spin the vehicles 180 degrees, so the driver can exit the Transfer Cabin driving forward rather than having to back out blind into the driveway. They can be built into the floor of the Transfer Cabin if there is adequate space, or located on top of a lift within the storage area to save space.
Satellite (or Carrier): Each shuttle will be equipped with a separate automated mechanical device called a satellite that is designed to lift and transport vehicles longitudinally back and forth from the Transfer Cabin to the shuttle, and then, in turn, to the vehicle storage spaces. Ideally this satellite will be battery-powered and wirelessly controlled so as to not require power and data cables to be extended and retracted as it leaves and returns to the shuttle.
Lifting Blades: Some AGV and pallet-less systems have satellites equipped with two retractable blades that extend and "pinch" under the tires to lift the vehicle. One has to be concerned about their use if a car has a flat tire.
Lifting Combs: Some AGV and pallet-less systems have satellites equipped with stationary steel bars protruding from their sides that are positioned under offsetting steel bars fixed into the floor of the transfer cabin and vehicle storage spaces. Once in position under the tires, the combs are lifted up under the tire, thereby lifting the vehicle. They can lift cars with flat tires, but require more height than blades.
Shuttle: This is an automated mechanical device that transports vehicles laterally through the transit aisle. It rolls on wheels guided along steel rails that are mounted to the interior faces of every level the storage area.
Shuttle w/ Integrated Turntable: This shuttle is equipped with a turntable that spins the vehicles 180 degrees in the Transit Aisle. While this type of shuttle can be located anywhere in the system, shuttles with turntables are most often only located on the ground floor to save money.
Lift: The lift is an automated mechanical device that transports the vehicle vertically to each level of the storage area. Ideally, the lifts can be located in the void of the transit aisle to avoid losing an entire column of storage spaces to the lift shaft, but this will require increased sophistication of the software to ensure the shuttles do not conflict with a lift while in transit. Alternatively, the lifts can be located in a column of storage spaces in the rack or by creating a lift shaft through the concrete shelves.
Clear Height: The vertical height required from the top beam or the top of slab in a shelf structure to the lowest point required for MEP systems. This is the space required for the system and the vehicle. It will vary by level if some levels are designed to accommodate SUVs, crossover, and sedans.
Floor-to-Floor Height: The vertical height required from the top beam to the top of the beam above in a rack structure, or the top of slab to the top of slab above in a shelf structure.
GFA (Gross Floor Area): The amount of two-dimensional space required to park a certain number of vehicles. This is calculated by multiplying the length x width of each level and adding the resulting sums for all levels in the system. This calculation typically includes any reasonable areas allocated for passenger elevator / stair cores and other services required for the main building the system supports. This method is typically used to calculate the space efficiency of a system since it is easier to calculate and it is assumed that any space required for non-parking related
MEP (Mechanical Electrical Plumbing) Height: The vertical height required for the HVAC, lighting, plumbing, and fire suppression systems above each level of vehicles.
NPA (Net Parking Area): The amount of two-dimensional space required to park a certain number of vehicles. This is calculated by multiplying the length x width of each storage level, adding the resulting sums for all levels in the system, an then subtracting any areas allocated to anything not used to park vehicles (i.e. passenger elevator & stair cores and other services required for the main building the system supports. Some manufacturers like to use this figure to make the systems appear more space efficient, but it is not typically used, as it is harder to calculate, and often misleading as there is no set methodology as to which elements to include or exclude. For example, since stair cores are required by fire code to be positioned within 150’ of any location in the system, at least two of the stairs should be allocated to the net parking area.
Space Efficiency: This is the average area required to park a vehicle after factoring in area lost to driveways, transit aisles, lift shafts, structure and reasonable areas allocated for passenger elevator / stair cores and other services required for the main building the system supports. It is calculated by multiplying the length x width of each level in the parking area, adding the resulting sums for all levels of the parking area, and then dividing by the total number of vehicles capable of being stored in the system.
System Height: This is the vertical space required for the mechanical elements of the system on each level. This will typically be a uniform height in all levels of the system regardless of vehicle heights required.
Volume: The total amount of three-dimensional space required to park a certain number of vehicles. This is calculated by multiplying the length x width x height of the system. This calculation typically includes any reasonable areas allocated for passenger elevator / stair cores and other services required for the main building the system supports.
FACTORS IMPACTING EFFICIENCY
Vehicle Height: This is the height required to store each type of car. The following are typical heights required, but may be customized based on market trends and customer requirements. Roughly 90% of of the vehicles sold in large metropolitan areas are below 6'.
ADA Vans = 8’ 2”
Large SUVs & Pickups = 6' to 6’ 8”
Crossovers, Small SUVs & Pickups = 5' to 6'
Sedans = 4' to 5’
Vehicle Length: This is the length required to store each type of car. The following are typical length classifications, but may be customized based on market trends and project requirements. Roughly 95% of of the vehicles sold in large metropolitan areas fit within the Standard and Compact lengths defined below.
Oversized = 17’ 2” to 19’ 2"
Standard = 15' 2" to 17’ 2”
Compact = Up to 15’ 2”
Systems will require some distance beyond the front and rear bumpers of the cars to enable drivers to potion the vehicles easily within the transfer cabin. Additionally, AGV systems will require an additional buffer on each end of the vehicle to ensure they do not run into other vehicles or structural elements. Palleted system do not need this added buffer because any car that fits within the pallet dimensions is protected by the edge of the pallet.
AGV and pallet-less systems can park different length vehicles on the same level within a system which can increase space efficiency within some projects which do not have enough space for uniform length spaces. This adds to software complexity, can slow retrieval times, and limits the inventory available to parkers, so variable length spaces should not be employed in projects with transient (i.e. daily parkers).
Vehicle Width: This is the width required to store each type of car. The following are typical heights required, but may be customized based on market trends and customer requirements. Roughly 95% of of the vehicles sold in large metropolitan areas fit within the Standard and Compact widths defined below.
Wide = 7' to 7’ 3”
Standard = 6’ to 7'
Compact = 5’ 2” to 6'
Systems will require some distance between the widest point of the cars (usually the extended mirrors) for mechanical movements. Additionally, AGV systems will require a buffer on each side of the vehicle to ensure they do not run into other vehicles or structural elements. Palleted system do not need this buffer because any car that fits within the pallet dimensions is protected by the edge of the pallet.
MInimum acceptable system specs
Curb Weight Limit: Curb weight is the weight of the vehicle once the passengers have disembarked the vehicle and removed the cargo they are taking with them. Systems in the U.S. market should be designed to handle vehicles up to 6000 lbs.