The worst part about parking in cities is actually finding a place to park. New York company Automotion has eliminated the hunt. Its automated parking-garage system (no searching, no attendants!) is already in use at three smaller New York locations, parking more than 350,000 cars with zero errors; it plans to open a 700-space car lot under a public park in Brooklyn, in 2016, which will house 250,000 cars a year. And because the cars idle less, lots of gas is saved. This is how it works.
Drivers enter through an inconspicuous ramp—no giant illuminated signs here—into a belowground drop-off area.
No need to cruise around in circles looking for a free space. Drivers pull into one of 12 designated dropoff rooms, and a flatscreen TV guides them to position the car on a steel pallet.
Drivers leave their cars, paying with a credit card at a nearby kiosk. Motion sensors ensure no one is in the dropoff room (or car) before the car is pushed onto the lift and lowered into the garage.
A hydraulic lift system moves the car to its computer-assigned space. The car travels on pallets, never touching another person or car. When close to capacity, pallets are linked together, moving multiple cars at once to make use of open space.
It takes an average of 45 seconds to place each car in its designated spot and about two minutes each to retrieve them.
A version of this article appeared in the December 2013 / January 2014 issue of Fast Company magazine.