Robotic garage pulls a HAL, chomps on cars


Somewhere HAL is smiling. Reports out of Hoboken, NJ today said an automated parking garage robotic system pulled a nutty this week trapping a driver and his pooch inside. 

According to reports it's not the first time the system has had issues with its car constituents.   According to the Jersey Journal, a Honda Civic was scraped along its right side when it became trapped on a pallet and sank two feet under the garage floor last spring. While the 324-space garage has been run by Unitronics since 2008, the robo-garage has dropped or trapped cars and ripped car doors and windows off due to mechanical and software glitches under its previous owner as well.  

According to Unitronics, its automated system in the parking facility is based on Unitronics' industrial controllers, as well as additional software and control tools developed by the company. 

 Specifically the Unitronics P2 Automated Parking system uses computer-controlled, lifts, conveyors and shuttles to transport passenger cars from the arrival level to a parking space and vice versa, without human assistance. Cars can be parked two and three deep with very little headroom, saving space and allowing the system to support more cars, the company said.  

In this latest case, police apparently had to pull the driver and the dog out through the car's window.  No one was hurt.

The garage has somewhat of a checkered past.  The original operators, Robotic Parking Systems was ousted by the city in a lawsuit after the garage dropped a couple  of cars (without drivers in them mind you)  more than 4 stories and at one point locked all cars inside for over 24 hours.

Robo-garages are still somewhat of an oddity in the US, where there are only a few installed in other  parking-starved cities such as New York, Boston and Washington, DC.  

In case you forgot, HAL or Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic Computer, was the super artificial intelligence-based computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey who in the end was a little troubled, shall we say.  

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