Status of Automated Vehicle Storage Systems in the U.S.


Status of Automated Vehicle Storage Systems in the U.S.

After completion of the first two fully-automated vehicle storage systems in mid-to-late 2002 (in Hoboken, NJ, and Washington, DC), it took another five years before the third system was completed in the U.S. (in New York City’s Chinatown).
Although slow to catch on in the U.S., there has been a recent boom in the construction of these parking facilities. Today, nine systems have been completed or are nearing completion, and six more are under construction.
The early AVSS projects in the U.S. used pallets to carry the vehicles. A recent trend in the industry moves away from palletized systems to non-pallet systems. Managing the storage and delivery of empty pallets is a headache. Also, non-pallet systems are often faster.
A non-pallet system consists of a dolly that slides under the vehicle. The dolly has steel arms that fold out and grasp the tires of the vehicle. The vehicle is lifted an inch or two off the floor and carried out of the entry compartment onto a horizontal shuttle that takes the vehicle over to a lift and up to a storage compartment.
In some systems the horizontal movement and lift mechanisms are provided in a single machine called a stacker crane (see Figure 1). All the machines are controlled by computer with no human intervention.
Where the floor area ratio (FAR) is not a consideration, there also is a trend away from steel storage racks to concrete floors (see Figure 2). The building codes do not adequately address fire protection and firefighter access for these building types, and some steel rack projects are having difficulty getting approved by building officials or fire marshals. The marshals find it easier to approve a concrete system because those systems have better fire resistance than do steel systems.
Where the FAR is a consideration, the open steel storage racks have an advantage in that there are no floors in the storage compartments. The vehicle is supported on a pallet that rests on the steel frame. Therefore, there is no floor area to count against the limit on FAR that is often present in zoning codes. The developer is then able to construct more building area.
The National Fire Protection Association is revising its Publication 88A, Standard for Parking Structures, to include a section devoted entirely to AVSS facilities. It should be available by mid 2010. By that time, 14 or more Automated Vehicle Storage Systems will likely be in use.
Don Monahan, P.E., a Vice President with Walker Parking Consultants, can be reached at

Sidebar 1:
Completed Automated Vehicle Storage Systems in the U.S.:
314 Spaces
916 Garden St., Hoboken, NJ

40 spaces
One York, Manhattan
55 Avenue of the Americas, New York City

67 spaces
123 Baxter St. (Chinatown), New York City

64 spaces
1706 Rittenhouse Square St., Philadelphia

224 spaces
Juniper Street Garage
101 S. Juniper St., Philadelphia

24 spaces
418 Jessie St., San Francisco

74 spaces
Summit Grand Parc
900 15th St. NW, Washington, DC

Automated Storage – 300 spaces
Automated Vehicle Parking – 100 spaces
Johnson Avenue, Coconut Creek, FL

Automated Storage – 300 spaces
Automated Vehicle Parking – 140 spaces
I-595 & U.S.-1, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Sidebar 2:
Projects Under Construction:
270 spaces
1504 Coney Island Ave., New York City

300 spaces
123 Beverly St., Boston

409 spaces
The Palisades of Towson
212 Washington Ave., Towson, MD

53 spaces
148 E. 24th St., New York City

132 spaces
275 Seabreeze Ave., Brooklyn, NY

65 spaces
20 Grand St., Brooklyn

Article contributed by:
Don Monahan
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