Innovative ‘Robotic’ garage soon to open One-of-a-kind automatic facility in Hoboken will be first in U.S.

An innovative garage that will move parked cars automatically from an entrance to a parking space may open in Hoboken in June.

The garage, conceived as a way to save space in crowded communities, will store 324 vehicles. The drivers will leave their cars at the entrance.

Officials from Robotic Parking Inc., the contractor hired to install the computer software and automated features at the facility at 916 Garden St., say that testing is almost complete.

“The garage is 98 percent finished,” said Robotic Executive Vice President Peggy Guignon two weeks ago. She said that only the final testing of the computer software and mechanical apparatus remained before the garage would be a fully functioning automated parking facility.

Robotic, founded in 1994, says it will try to alleviate parking problems in crowded facilities across the country once the garage in Hoboken is running. Several other countries already use automatic parking, and Robotic’s founder, Gerhard Haag, once worked on garage facilities in Germany and decided to bring the idea to the United States.

But the project at 916 Garden St. is currently almost three years behind schedule and millions of dollars over budget. In one of the more recent setbacks, according to Guignon, the increase of local residents working at home over the last seven months has caused an increase in radio frequency interference with the wireless networks that help run the garage. It required changes to the radios in the garage that send and receive information.

Now, the Hoboken Parking Authority (HPA) and Robotic believe they see the light at the end of the tunnel.

A week ago, the contractor began final “acceptance testing.” This gave Robotic opportunity to prove to the Parking Authority and the project’s insurance company that it has fulfilled all of its contractual obligations, such as the computer system and mechanical devices picking up cars and delivering them to an empty spot.

According to Guignon, 21 different cars were to be used for the tests.

The garage, when finished, will be five stories high and have different levels for different sizes of cars.

It will be for Hoboken residents only, and spaces will be rented on a month-to-month basis.

Preparation through May

If the contractor passes the acceptance testing and the mechanics are up to par, the next step is for the HPA to prepare for the garage’s opening.

“If the acceptance tests pass, then we can enter into the training and preparation phase,” said Daniel DeCavaignac, the chairman of the Hoboken Parking Authority’s facilities committee, Wednesday. “We expect that to last through the majority of May.”

According to DeCavaignac, there are several issues that must be taken care of before the garage is ready to open. The HPA operators who will man the site 24 hours, seven days a week must be staffed and trained. There will always be one HPA operator on duty and one Robotic employee present at the garage. It will also be linked to Robotic and General Electric in case of problems.

DeCavaignac said that security, safety, and environmental issues will have to be addressed before the building opens to the public. The building’s sprinkler system must be tested, the facility must pass all construction inspections, and it must receive a certificate of occupancy. The HPA also needs to test the garage’s backup power supply and ensure that the building has adequate lighting.

Recently, neighbors have voiced concerns that the moving parts in the garage may be too loud. Before it opens, the HPA must test the site to ensure that the noise level does not create a nuisance, DeCavaignac said. He said Wednesday that he believes the garage will operate quietly.

“They have been running the garage at full force for the past month and we have not received a single noise complaint about the garage,” DeCavaignac said.


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