Robots are never as cool as they sound, are they? The term always conjures up images of human-like, metal-and-wire beings that can do everything except feel. Yet, the reality is that half the time you're talking about a big, crane-like arm or some other automated accessory that just isn't really as awesome as the Jetsons made us believe robots would be.
And in this case, the robots are a drastic disappointment. When I read the original headline about robots parking cars, of course I thought walking, talking robot valets that tip their hat and park your car with care. But what I got was a large automated system that looks like a closet organizer for cars.
While Chicago's Green Park Eco Garage doesn't have walking, driving robots to park your car, it is one of the most advanced, innovative places that you'll ever park your sedan. Instead of a human attendant or self-parking, the garage relies on an advanced system of cameras, computers, sensors and laser scanners to size up your car, park it into a shelving unit and then return it when you come back.
Now you might wonder why so much tech is necessary for something as simple as a parking garage. It's not like parking your own car is that much of a hassle. But by automating the process, Eco Garage is able to stack cars in a way that you simply wouldn't be able to park them yourself. And VLF Development LLC, the entity behind the build, estimates that the 100 cars that the garage can hold is about double what it would hold in a traditional configuration. And space is generally a huge issue when it comes to parking facilities in large cities.
In addition to helping to cut clutter from the city streets, the LEED Gold-registered Eco Garage boasts a variety of green benefits including construction with recycled materials, renewable energy sourcing and a natural, rain-collecting roof. Since people don't work or park in the garage itself, the company won't need to heat or light the interior.
Last year, public officials and developers broke ground on the Eco Garage and construction will run through the fall, with the public opening set to happen before year-end. You can get more information about this interesting facility and see a video of how it works at its website.