Park. Lock. Leave.

The average American spends 290 hours behind the wheel each year. Seventeen of those hours are spent looking for parking spots. With the increased adoption of automated parking, that number will reach zero in the future.  At a U-tron-designed garage, drivers never set foot in a parking structure. After pulling a car into an entry bay, a driver exits the vehicle and a combination of robotic shuttles and conveyors come to whisk it away to an available space. Human participation is reduced to grabbing a ticket at a nearby kiosk. When it comes time to retrieve the vehicle, the same automated system returns the car to the driver in minutes.  Like the evolving interfaces of popular apps and mobile devices, automated parking makes the process seamless, painless and convenient. From ending the hunt for parking space to the beautification of once-dismal parking in real estate development, here are six ways automated parking is making a dreaded experience enjoyable.

1. Takes The Stress Out Of City Parking

On the congested streets of New York City, searching for parking is like chasing a white whale. New Yorkers spend 107 hours a year looking for parking spots, an opportunity cost that adds up to an estimated $2,243 annually in wasted time, fuel and emissions per driver. It also generates $4.3B a year in costs to the city. For city residents, finding a spot or garage near the apartment or office can often be impossible.  Automated systems let city residents own cars without worrying about problems like alternate side rules and parallel parking. Multifamily developers in the city increasingly see automated parking as the must-have amenity for city living.

2. Parking As Amenity

While street parking in the city can be difficult, finding an apartment with on-site parking spaces is nearly impossible. Residents compete for a limited inventory of spaces, ending up on endless waiting lists. Others are relegated to storing their vehicles in garages far from their apartments. Once a tenant strikes gold once with a parking space, it can be difficult to give it up once it comes time to move.  Among all NYC households, 46% own cars, according to census data gathered between 2005 and 2009, up from 44% in 2000. On-site parking has become a must-have amenity.  Autonomous garages make it easier for developers to incorporate parking into building designs. Residents can avoid shoveling out spots after snowstorms or dealing with weather damage, and can unload packages or groceries right in the building. Having the car parked in the building keeps the vehicle safe and secure. Using an app to summon the car, users can be on the road in as little time as it takes them to head to the garage.

3. Faster And Safer Than A Traditional Valet

While human valets offer to take the onus of parking off drivers, picking up the car can be tedious and time-consuming. Using Unitronics’ automated parking system, drivers can be on the road in minutes. Building owners also save on personnel costs using an automated system, and the precision of the robotic shuttles eliminates the risk of dings and scratches, as well as theft. Drivers walk out of the parking structure with their keys, eliminating the possibility of joyrides.

4. Parking That Learns Behavior

Everyday objects, from lamps to coffee machines, are getting smarter. The Internet of Things has opened new pathways for studying human behavior and designing technology around that data. Unitronics applies that approach to parking by using advanced algorithms to learn and remember when users enter or exit the garage. The system is always ready when users leave for work and when they return home. Based on these patterns, automated parking can have a car waiting in the retrieval bay before the smart coffeemaker brews its first cup.

5. Saves Space, Money And Enhances Design

Robots are more efficient at parking than humans. Autonomous shuttles fit cars into the right-sized spot, optimizing what would otherwise be wasted space. The elimination of pedestrian walkways also frees up room for more parking spots.  Ramps, drive aisles and personnel access areas are no longer necessary. Autonomous parking can meet parking requirements using only 30% to 50% of the existing parking volume, and developers can use the space saved for retail, additional rental units or other amenities. Developers are able to build developments faster with automated parking, as structures require less building materials. They are also able to incorporate parking structures into their projects in a more aesthetically pleasing way. Architects do not have to design around large gray blocks of empty space. Instead, they can put their own stamp on the project by incorporating automated parking into the overall building design.

6. Designed For Adaptable Reuse

The elimination of ramps, ventilation systems and specific ceiling heights makes automated garages adaptable to future use. With car ownership expected to decline as self-driving cars and ride-sharing gain popularity, designers can rework automated parking structures into residential or commercial spaces that better serve the changing needs of the community. Flexibility allows building owners to capture high returns on investment while appealing to the shifting demands of tenants.

This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content and U-tron. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content

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