Automated parking garage to be built near campus

By Bryan Boccelli

Currently under construction, the new high rise that will be located at Fourth and Green streets will be equipped with a parking system relatively new to the architecture community.

The building, located at 308 E. Green St., will be equipped with Boomerang System’s RoboticValet.

“RoboticValet is a fully automated parking system that can store and retrieve automobiles in a multilevel parking structure without human intervention,” said Chris Mulvihill, president of Bloomberg Systems, Inc.

There have been a number of automated parking systems set up around the world, but Boomerang System’s RoboticValet is distinctive because it was designed, engineered and manufactured in the U.S.

“From the user’s perspective, the system is like a big vending machine for cars,” Mulvihill said.

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    Residents wishing to park drive-up to the automated system and park their vehicle in a tray, the car is then transported to its designated spot and can be retrieved by the driver at any time using an ID or key.

    “By eliminating the need for ramps and drive aisles, this system can fit cars in much less space than would otherwise be required by a conventional garage,” Mulvihill said. “This improved efficiency can be used to conserve open space, reduce excavation or to re-purpose space for other uses.”

    Because there are no people inside the parking system, this helps eliminate the possibility of theft, vandalism, assault and many other crimes.

    “There’s no idling — going up and down aisles,” said Jim Heffernan, principal at HERE Enterprises. “In addition there is no one in the vault its self where the cars are stored.”

    This helps make the residence safer for cars and residents.

    “We are pleased to be working with HERE and Campus Acquisitions on what will be the first fully automated robotic parking system in the state of Illinois,” said Mark Patterson, CEO of Boomerang Systems in a press release.

    The 16-story building is already under construction with plans to be completed some time in 2015.

    “We believe our technology is ideal for student housing projects in environments where space is at a premium and where the market places high value on safety and modern building technology that offers environmentally friendly solutions,” Patterson said.

    This is the first time this kind of parking garage is being built on a university campus.

    “Most campuses are space constrained and colleges and universities are conscientious of the environment and wish to reduce opportunities for crime,” Mulvihill said.

    The company has spent years developing and testing this system and its first system was installed in New Jersey in 2011. In Miami, the company is currently installing what will be the largest automated parking garage in the United States.

    “While the use of AGVs (automatic guided vehicles) in parking is relatively new, hundreds of AGV systems have been successfully deployed in various applications — factories, distribution centers, hospitals, etc. — over the past 30 years,” Mulvihill said.

    Aside from the parking garage saving space and being environmentally friendly, RoboticValet should make residents’ lives easier, Mulvihill said.

    “We believe that providing a central drop off and pick up location for vehicles on grade will provide a safer and more convenient parking experience for our student residents,” said CEO of HERE James Letchinger in a press release,

    This type of parking system is already available throughout many parts of southeast Asia.

    “It’s a highly green idea,” Heffernan said, “It dramatically reduced carbon emissions associated with a standard parking garage.”

    Bryan can be reached at [email protected].