The Industrial Age
The late 19th century saw the arrival of the gasoline-powered automobile. Shortly after, in the early years of the 20th century, the first mechanical parking system debuted in Paris. The system transported cars to upper levels, where attendants parked the vehicles.
Mechanical parking systems have continued to evolve, and advancements in electro-mechanical systems improved their performance and reduced the need for attendants. The 1980s brought the revolution of the computer-controlled systems that allowed the introduction of the first driverless, automated parking system.
From its early days, the goal of mechanical parking was simple: to provide an efficient parking solution that minimizes the use of space and allows for other, income-generating functions like retail, multifamily or office space to be built. It also allows for a reduction in construction costs. Throughout the evolution of the mechanical parking systems into automated parking systems, space saving has remained a key benefit for real estate developers and architects looking to incorporate these systems in their projects.
Industrial Solutions Led To Real Estate Develpoment
The evolution of the automated parking industry complements the development of automated warehousing systems, an industry that was faster to evolve than the automated parking industry. As a result, many of the leading automated parking vendors have strong roots in the automated material handling industry.
Over time, the automated parking vendors continued to develop, providing architects and real estate developers with a variety of solutions that use the latest technologies and provide solutions for all types of developments, be it commercial or residential developments big or small. But with all the advancement in solutions and technologies, the industrial “look and feel” of the automated parking systems relegated these systems to “back of the house” operations and alienated users.
For U-tron, a Unitronics company and a worldwide leader in automated parking, with 30 years of experience in the automated material handling and automated parking industries, realizing the impact the industrial aesthetic has on users was a pivotal moment. After successfully implementing multiple automated parking systems throughout the U.S., U-tron discovered that a well-performing and reliable system is the basis for a successful product, but true success lies in the user interface of the system providing a pleasant experience.
Making Parking A Desirable Amenity
Improving user experience starts with the smartphone. Over 82% of Americans surveyed in a 2017 Deloitte report own a smartphone, and Americans collectively check their smartphones 12 billion times a day. Smartphone users can order food, pay bills and call car services with the tap of a screen.
U-tron provides its system users with an app that allows them to park and retrieve their cars, and continuously updates them with information such as average retrieval times throughout the day, space availability and space reservation. To mitigate the natural impatience users feel while waiting for their cars to be delivered, U-tron’s app provides real-time information about the retrieval process and the remaining retrieval time. U-tron’s app enables its users to be engaged with the parking process in an era where users expect such control at their fingertips.
Upgrading the user experience doesn’t end with the smartphone app. A well-designed lobby helps mitigate the psychological impact of waiting by keeping users engaged. They can listen to music, watch TV or even grab a coffee. Notification tools, such as monitors and countdown clocks, provide users with a real-time update on the vehicle retrieval process, providing a seamless transition from the app to the physical space. Designed rooms for drop-off and pickup of cars, which incorporate advanced user interface screens, make the user experience more enjoyable.
U-tron embeds the design and operation of its system within the building flow and considers the intended use of the building when designing the journey for users to and from the parking system, providing an elevated parking experience that turns the automated parking system into a desirable amenity for every building.
Looking Into The Future
For U-tron, advancement of its automated parking systems doesn’t stop with improving the user experience. With urban car ownership expected to decline over the next few decades, U-tron’s systems are well-positioned for future repurposing and adaptive reuse. By removing ramps and sloped surfaces, they provide surfaces fit for any future use, allowing architects to design parking spaces today that could be redesigned into residential, office or retail spaces.
Architects, urban planners and developers are becoming aware of the need to design a “future-ready” parking structure that could be repurposed into residential units or other building amenities. Automated parking allows buildings to avoid having a potentially obsolete structure in the coming years once car ownership starts to decline.
What’s Good for Users Is Good For Developers
In a changing environment where users demand flexibility with their parking options, including the option to call their car and control their parking process allows architects and developers to offer the best future-ready solution.
Automated parking systems offer a smaller parking footprint and a future option to repurpose the potentially underutilized space. It is an innovative approach, transforming parking into an amenity by focusing on the user experience. 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.