Can Robots Solve Our Parking Woes?

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MTI researchers find robotic parking technology presents an affordable option for congestion mitigation and air quality control around park & rides
July 14, 2021
San José, CA

Commuting can be stressful enough without the hassle of congested parking lots. Enter a robotic system awaiting the arrival of park and ride commuters in need of a quick transition from their car to their bus or train. New Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) research, Robotic Parking Technology for Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Control around Park & Rides, focuses on the utilization of robotic parking technology to mitigate a plethora of issues, including congestion and air quality control, specifically around park-and-ride zones. 

The research team embarked on a multidisciplinary approach toward designing a more efficient and affordable robotic parking facility, including fabricating multiple prototypes. The prototypes consist of a loading pallet and a shuttle for transferring vehicles. This design presents a number of innovative ideas—such as isolating the pallets from the shuttle— that ensure the platform is functional for virtually any street legal vehicle.

The final prototype was tested on a full-scale car (3,000 lbs of weight) and was able to lift the car and move it in linear and circular motions. The total cost of the development of the prototype system was approximately $5,000, an economical investment for investigating parking solutions. 

“The overall idea is a newly designed, low-cost car lift and transfer platform for automated parking systems. This design is particularly attractive because it simplifies the operational aspects of vehicle placement and retrieval, and the prototype for this design was fabricated very economically by a team of faculty and students,” explains the study’s authors. 

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. Local government interventions may be instrumental as a catalyst for public-private partnerships toward more proactive deployment of automated parking facilities in close proximity to park-and-ride areas, specifically in congested zones. Robotic parking technology can mitigate traffic congestion, and potentially improve safety and air quality, and enhance the parking experience for everyone. 



At the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) at San Jose State University (SJSU) our mission is to increase mobility for all by improving the safety, efficiency, accessibility, and convenience of our nations’ transportation system. Through research, education, workforce development and technology transfer, we help create a connected world. Founded in 1991, MTI is funded through the US Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security, the California Department of Transportation, and public and private grants, including those made available by the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (SB1). MTI is affiliated with SJSU’s Lucas College and Graduate School of Business.

Mahdi Yoozbashizadeh
is an Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at CSU Long Beach. Previously he was a postdoctoral researcher at University of Southern California, where he completed a PhD program.
Forouzan Golshani is a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and the former Dean of the CSU Long Beach College of Engineering. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and IEEE. 


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