First, Lexus comes out with a car that can park itself, now New York gets its first robotic parking garage. What people dream up. This February, up to 67 cars will be squeezed in an apartment building basement in Chinatown that would normally only fit 24. The technology has been successful overseas, but the only other U.S. location hasn’t exactly had an impressive track record. Built in 2002 in Hoboken, N.J., the garage dropped an unoccupied Cadillac Deville six floors in 2004 and a Jeep four stories the following year. Last year, a malfunction trapped cars inside for 26 hours before it was fixed.
Here’s how it works: The driver stops the car on a pallet and gets out. The pallet is then lowered down into the bowels of the garage and gingerly placed into a vacant parking space by a computer-controlled contraption like an elevator that can also move sideways. OK, OK, it’s not quite as cool as if one of those I, Robot dudes greeted you and snatched your keys, but still. There’s no human interaction or supervision but there will be one living, breathing, heart-beating Homo sapien handy if you get confused and, of course, to take your money—who would trust a robot to do that? Parking rates will be around $400 a month or $25 a day, which actually isn’t that bad if you consider yourself lucky to be the guinea pig for this cutting-edge technology. If you figure you’re paying to test out someone’s rather untested experiment, then I guess that’s a pretty steep price to pay.
Photo courtesy of Eliya on Flickr