The Largest Robotic Parking Systems in the World: Is the United States Ready for This?

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Sponsored by Robotic Parking Systems, Inc.
By Kathy Price-Robinson

Learning Objectives:

  1. Discuss the two largest automated parking facilities in the world: 1,191 spaces and 2,314 spaces, respectively.
  2. Explain how robotic parking creates a healthier, safer, and stress-free experience for users.
  3. Identify the factors that make robotic parking beneficial for environmental sustainability.
  4. Define the significant land-use benefits and positive ROI of automated parking.
  5. Describe how robotic parking relates to emerging transportation technologies.

Credits:

HSW
1 AIA LU/HSW
IACET
0.1 IACET CEU*
AIBD
1 AIBD P-CE
AAA
AAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
AANB
AANB 1 Hour of Core Learning
AAPEI
AAPEI 1 Structured Learning Hour
MAA
MAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
NLAA
NLAA 1 Hour of Core Learning
NSAA
NSAA 1 Hour of Core Learning
NWTAA
NWTAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
OAA
OAA 1 Learning Hour
SAA
SAA 1 Hour of Core Learning
 
This course can be self-reported to the AIBC, as per their CE Guidelines.
This course is approved as a Structured Course
Approved for structured learning
Approved for Core Learning
This course is approved as a Core Course
Course may qualify for Learning Hours with NWTAA
Course eligible for OAA Learning Hours
This course is approved as a core course
This course can be self-reported for Learning Units to the Architectural Institute of British Columbia

Without a doubt, the United States likes to go big. We are the home of Mount Rushmore, Disneyland, and the Whopper. We are the birthplace of Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon. The movie industry grew up here. We are an economic and military powerhouse. The rate of entrepreneurship is staggering. We have big vehicles, big houses, and big dreams.

All images courtesy of Robotic Parking Systems, Inc.

When it is completed, the New Palace of Justice located in Kuwait City, Kuwait, will contain the largest robotic parking system in the world with 2,433 spaces.

But with some emerging trends, we lag. This is the case when it comes to automated parking systems, which are robotic or automatic systems that park cars without human intervention using precisely calibrated machinery and software. These innovative parking systems save valuable urban space, create the highest use for land, increase ROI for developers, improve the environment, delight drivers, and are primed to mesh with future technologies. Research and Markets research firm estimated that the global market for automated parking in 2019 was $1.3 billion and forecasts the global market to grow to $3.6 billion by 2027.1

While automated parking technology and hardware are viable and readily available today in the United States, the biggest systems are located in other countries.

The current honor of the Guinness World Record for the largest automated parking system with 2,314 spaces belongs to the Al Jahra Court Complex in Kuwait. Prior to this verified designation in 2018, the biggest automated parking system was Emirates Financial Towers (EFT) in Dubai with 1,191 parking spaces, which earned its standing in 2010. And soon, a new record holder is expected to be announced when the 2,433 spaces of robotic parking open in Kuwait at the New Palace of Justice.

Ironically, all of these record-breaking systems are made by an American company and manufactured here.

A History of Technology Advancing Architecture

Automated parking is gaining traction in the United States, though not nearly on the scale with which it is being embraced by architects and developers in other parts of the world. While having one’s vehicle automatically transported and stored within a massive steel grid is unfamiliar to most U.S. citizens, other now-common technologies were once faced with the same unfamiliarity and resistance. Elevators, for instance, were suspect for many decades after they were introduced. Only a stunt by Elisha Graves Otis at the 1854 World’s Fair in New York City, where he dramatically cut the cable of an elevator display, finally demonstrated to skeptics that an emergency brake system would prevent widespread death from elevator mishaps. Acceptance of the Otis elevator system is said to have made skyscrapers themselves possible.

When the developable space needed for parking cars is fully calculated, the acceptance of a system that can cut in half or thirds the space needed for parked cars could be revolutionary in terms of land use and even traffic issues. For architects, developers, and drivers unfamiliar with the innovation of robotic parking systems, it is helpful to take note of the largest of these installations and then examine the factors that led to their specifications.

The Al Jahra Court Complex in Kuwait contains the world’s largest automated parking system with 2,314 spaces.

Al Jahra Court Complex in Kuwait

For the Al Jahra Court Complex in Kuwait—the current Guinness World Record holder for largest automated parking system—a U.S. company based in Florida with more than 100,000 square feet of manufacturing space was contracted for the project design, manufacture of the machinery, automation design, installation, startup of operations, and maintenance for the facility.

The structure is a combination of conventional and automated parking.

The parking facility was designed as a combination of conventional concrete ramp parking on the basement and podium levels, with the automated levels above the podium levels. The entire structure has a footprint of 325 feet by 168 feet, and both sections—conventional and automated—have approximately the same vertical height of 115 feet. However, while the conventional parking garage with ramps from floor to floor provides 684 parking spaces, the robotic parking system provides 2,314 spaces, or almost 3.5 times the number of parking spaces in approximately the same volume. This built project provides the starkest contrast of the space needed for each type of parking, and thus the advantageous ROI for developers who choose automated parking systems over conventional parking systems.

The automated parking structure is accessed by 12 grade-level entry/exit terminals. Peak traffic throughput (vehicles entering and exiting the terminals) is 425 cars per hour. That equals approximately seven cars per minute. The performance of the facility exceeded the contractual requirements of 400 cars per hour throughput, and an average of 177 seconds exceeded the contractual retrieval time of 220 seconds.

The general manager of the project, engineer Mohammed Al Kholy, shared his satisfaction with the installation in a letter to the automated parking vendor: “I am writing this letter to express my gratitude and appreciation for the high-quality service being provided to us. They have executed the design, manufacturing, and delivery of over 1,293 tons of machinery, electronics, and automation equipment within a remarkably short time to meet the project schedule demanded by Amiri Diwan (the office of the Amir of Kuwait).”

Visit bit.ly/30rrIvh to watch a video of this parking garage in action.

Emirates Financial Towers in Dubai

The Emirates Financial Towers (EFT) in Dubai previously held the Guinness World Record for largest automated parking facility at 1,191 spaces. The machinery and automation were designed and manufactured by the same U.S. company that designed and built the next record holder.

The previous world-record holder for largest automated parking system with 1,191 spaces is the Emirates Financial Towers in Dubai.

IBN Battuta Gate Complex in Dubai

The first automated parking garage in the Middle East was the Ibn Battuta Gate Complex in Dubai. Built in 2009, it has 765 spaces in a footprint of 276 feet by 98 feet, with a height of 57 feet. Performance tests showed peak traffic handling of more than 250 cars per hour with the capability of 32 cars in motion at any one time. As of 2020, this facility has a continuous operations track record of 11 years. The World’s Luxury Guide awarded the robotic parking system at Ibn Battuta Gate the status of the most luxurious automated garage in the world.

The parking system at the Ibn Battuta Gate Complex in Dubai was named the most luxurious automated garage in the world.


Shown is the interior of the robotic parking garage at the Ibn Battuta Gate Complex.

Upcoming: New Palace of Justice in Kuwait

The New Palace of Justice in Kuwait with its luminescent cubist design will be the world’s tallest and largest judicial building. The U.S. company that built the other Guinness World Record holders for largest automated parking systems is building 2,433 automated parking spaces for the facility. This iconic garage features 18 terminals with a throughput of 720 cars per hour. That is a capacity to deliver approximately 12 cars each minute. Previous third-party certification shows an average single retrieval time of 177 seconds. It is expected to take over the Guinness World Record title when completed.

 

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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in April 2021

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