A lack or limited availability for parking may have multiple consequences, not the least of which is driver frustration, congestion, and air pollution. However, there is a greater problem that is not widely recognized by the public, namely the negative effect on the use of transit systems due to insufficient parking spaces close to key transit stations. Automated parking management systems, which have been successfully deployed in several European and Japanese cities, can manage parking needs at transit stations more effectively than other alternatives. Numerous studies have confirmed that quick and convenient automobile access to park-and-ride lots can be essential to making public transit competitive with the automobile in suburban areas.

Automated parking systems use a robotic platform that carries each vehicle to one of the locations in a custom designed structure. Each location is designed compactly so that considerably more vehicles can be parked in the automated garages than the traditional parking lots. Central to the design of these systems are three key technologies, namely:

1. Mechanical design and the operation of vehicle transfer, i.e., the robotic platform

2. Structural and architectural requirements to meet safety and earthquake standards, among other design imperatives,

3. Automation and intelligent control issues as related to the overall operation and system engineering.

This article concerns the first technology, and more specifically the design of the robotic platform for vehicle transfers. We will outline the overall design of the robot and the shuttle, followed by a description of the prototype that was developed in our laboratories. Subsequently, performance related issues and scalability of the current design will be analyzed.

Publication Date


Publication Type



Transportation Technology

Digital Object Identifier


MTI Project



Park-and-ride, Parking facilities, Multimodal transportation, Automated parking, Parking guidance systems


Transportation | Transportation Engineering