Great Futures takes a look at how technology is changing even the most traditional forms of infrastructure.
Robotic Parking Systems use space more intelligently than a regular
parking garage. In a Robotic Parking System, after you park and exit your car, it is picked up by computerized machinery that lifts it and safely places it on a shelving system inside the parking structure. A Robotic Parking System also retrieves cars through a secure kiosk, which delivers the car to its driver at the exit terminal in three minutes or less, facing forward so that it is safe and easy to exit the garage.
There are numerous benefits to this type of system. For one thing, Robotic Parking Systems can hold twice as many cars in the same amount of space as conventional garages. This means that architects and developers can use less space for parking garages (while maintaining the same capacity for vehicles) and incorporate more green, retail, residential, or office space, or combinations thereof. Thus, while a conventional ramp-style parking garage appears to be less expensive than an automated garage, when you factor in the cost of land, a Robotic Parking System gives developers a better return on their investment.
Today, bridges are built longer and taller than ever before. Years ago, UC Berkeley professor T. Y. Lin, a well-known bridge engineer, had the conceptual designs for bridges that could be built across the Bering and Gibraltar Straits. It was a dream then, but such bridges can actually be built now.
At the same time, many of our bridges are becoming old. A robust and reliable inspection and monitoring program should be established in order to protect the public. Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) systems, for instance, can monitor the deterioration and failing of bridge components and give warning before disaster occurs. Currently, due to cost, SHM is not an everyday practice. However, by improving sensor installation and wireless monitoring, and by miniaturizing the device, we can bring down the cost, making such systems a more logical choice for industry leaders.