The future of driverless parking in Los Angeles was unveiled Thursday at a high-end Van Nuys apartment complex. The region’s first fully automated parking system lets drivers pull their car in to a bay, jump out and let the machines take over..
By Bob Strauss, Staff Writer LA Daily News
The future of driverless parking in Los Angeles was unveiled Thursday at a high-end Van Nuys apartment complex. The region’s first fully automated parking system lets drivers pull their car in to a bay, jump out and let the machines take over. A structural steel system of lifts and shuttles moves vehicles up, down, back and forth on pallets through one under- and three above-ground levels of parking stalls.
The system allows twice as many cars to fit into a parking structure, because there’s no need for room to open car doors, and no need to leave roadway space for vehicles to drive through the garage. “Do you still go to the bank to get cash or do you go to an ATM?” said real estate developer Christopher Alan, who developed the project. “This is the same thing.” Auto-ParkiT’s (and Southern California’s) first fully automated parking system enables 16 vehicles to get stored in a new, eight-unit building with no inside driving required.
Since no concrete needs to be poured, construction costs can be kept between $17,500 and $23,000 per stall (the local parking structure average is $18,000 to over $30,000 per stall). Auto-ParkiT has similarities to concrete structure operations in Europe, Asia and on the East Coast. Alan came up with the notion to create it – which took some five years and $15 million worth of research and development – when he couldn’t find anything like it that would work for one of his developments in Burbank.
“If you didn’t have to go in a parking structure again, if you could just wave a key fob and let it park itself, that would be better,” Alan reckoned as an Audi R8 moved smoothly and almost silently behind him on the electrically motorized system. Omron Automation & Safety, which specializes in industrial storage systems, was one of several partners that helped develop Auto-ParkiT. Alan’s Dasher Lawless company, which is named after his two sons, built the four-story apartment structure that serves as the system’s showcase. Alan said 100 projects around the country are interested in Auto-ParkiT. City Department of Building and Safety head Robert “Bud” Ovrom said a 700-stall structure is being developed for Century City. Pallets are turned 180 degrees before vehicles are parked. When drivers want their cars back, they wave a special key fob in front of electronic readers on each floor of the building.
With a wait time of under two minutes, the car is often at the entry dock, facing nose out and ready to go by the time its driver gets off the elevator. “It’s such a nice luxury, automated valet parking,” said McKenna Maduli, a television host who’s lived in the building for three weeks.
“I think that it’s definitely something that is included in your rent, but y’know, I don’t have to tip a guy every time I get my car, which is so nice because I’d definitely be broke if I had to. “My boyfriend came over here and we got into the car and he said the system made him feel like Bruce Wayne,” Maduli added. “He thought this was so Batman and so cool. We watched the show as kids and thought, `One day, I want to get into my car facing out!’ And y’know, 2013, here we are.”
Copyright ©2010 Los Angeles Newspaper Group.