Your smart car parks itself – less sprawl; more livable cities

Thanks for your interest

Posted by itsparker on March 18, 2011

This blog recently passed a total in excess of 10,000 readers. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to stop by.


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Posted by itsparker on August 10, 2010

Business News - Local News  

Thursday, July 29, 2010

IBM teams with CMU for infrastructure lab

Pittsburgh Business Times – by Malia Spencer

IBM is teaming with Carnegie Mellon University to form the IBM Smarter Infrastructure Lab.

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Technology company IBM Corp. is teaming up with Carnegie Mellon University for the IBM Smarter Infrastructure Lab to study infrastructure and develop technology to build smarter cities.

The lab is part of the Pennsylvania Smarter Infrastructure Incubator, and the IBM lab will be housed within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The incubator is the evolution of the university’s existing Center for Sensed Critical Infrastructure.

“We like to think that IBM is a global leader for a smarter planet and business analytics,” said Wayne Balta, vice president of corporate environmental affairs and product safety. “CMU has been innovating the practice of engineering for years and it is involved in innovation of the management of infrastructure.”

So the partnership was only natural, he said.

“(The lab) will apply engineering but also the business school and policy to look at how civil infrastructure, the stuff built to underpin the economy, how it can be made more efficient from an economic perspective and more environmentally sustainable,” Balta said.

Earlier this summer, the university announced a partnership with transportation manufacturer Bombardier Inc. to study technology and innovation in transit infrastructure. Bombardier and IBM are the two founding partners for the new PSII, said Matthew Sanfilippo, executive director of the incubator.

Construction is beginning imediately on the two facilities within the university departments, and the cost to build out the two labs is priced at $2.2 million, Sanfilippo said. Part of the funding, $1 million, is a grant from the commonwealth under the Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program.

Balta said IBM will be helping CMU with hardware, software and business analytics and optimization tools as well as the company’s vast research operations.

The company and the school will be able to work on ways to commercialize the technology and research developed in the lab. Local, state and the federal government will also be invited to partner in the lab as well so that leaders can participate in research and learn how to better design and maintain the infrastructure of the future.

“At Carnegie Mellon, we’ve been working for a number of years on interdisciplinary research to help better manage critical infrastructure using advanced technologies,” said James H. Garrett Jr., the Thomas Lord professor and chair of the Department of Civil Engineering, in a written statement. “Our goal has been to deploy a variety of sensors to collect significant amounts of new data that can be analyzed and turned into actionable information so that the people build, maintain or manage infrastructure can do so in a more efficient and cost effective manner.”

Malia Spencer covers technology and manufacturing at the Pittsburgh Business Times.
Contact her at or (412) 208-3829.
You can also follow her on Twitter.

Way back when, I was part of Ford’s and General Motors’ advanced transportation R&D efforts. The world has really changed. The U.S. auto companies no longer support such advanced R&D, having to focus on near-term product related development. So now we have computer and Internet related companies like IBM and Cisco or navigation related companies like Google and Nokia, leading the way. So what independent companies (Toyota maybe in automotive), or what consortium of companies, will lead the way in ITS-Park R&D?


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ITS-Park Blog Status

Posted by itsparker on June 6, 2010

I began this blog in October of 2009 with the purpose of: Promoting the discussion of the need, feasibility, benefits and opportunities inherent in ITS-Park systems where parking spaces are found, reserved and paid for using the Internet; where ITS capable cars, that is “smartcars”, drive autonomously through parking garages and park themselves. In the ensuing seven plus months, my blog has attracted over 5000 views to my 46 posts, an average of about 160 views per week; 520 views per month. I hope that all of you who have chosen to visit, and come back to view my posts frequently, have found the knowledge worthwhile. I thank you for your interest.

At this point in the relatively short life of my blog, I have the following perspective:

  1. As I research broad aspects of ITS-Park, and build my personal understanding, I am more convinced than ever that smartcars and ITS-Park will come together, and the technology will be demonstrated in the next two years.
  2. ITS-Park garages will become a major influence on restructuring cities worldwide – the need is growing every year.
  3. That the smartcars/ITS-Park combination will lead to the creation of many multi-billion dollar businesses worldwide over the next 25 years.

My only regret is that I have been totally unsuccessful in achieving any substantial dialogue with viewers about these ideas. Literally all of my viewers are “lurkers”. I get viewers from all over the world, including many translating my materials through Google. I still hope that I will find at least two or three viewers who are passionate and knowledgeable about the subject, and that they would participate in a running discussion.

Do you have any suggestions for stimulating viewer’s discussion?


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Moving ITS-Park Infrastructure Forward: Designing Example Garage Modules

Posted by itsparker on June 3, 2010

I assume that the underlying smartcar technology of ITS-Park will be publicly demonstrated within the next several years. The result should be a high level of consumer interest, and a push by the auto and technology industries to make the smartcar option available. But the push of technology availability also requires the pull of parallel infrastructure development. (Yeah, it’s the old chicken/egg question – how do you get both started together?). Catalyzing the infrastructure side of the potential ITS-Park business appears the most difficult issue – cities must sell themselves on the tremendous impact that ITS-Park garages can/will have on the structure, livability and sustainability of their cities. I suggest the need for a two step process to encourage cities involvement in ITS-Park infrastructure application:

Step One – Industry develops preliminary designs of ITS-Park garage modules

Step Two – Cities use the ITS-Park module designs as the basis for conceptual urban design improvements

Step One: Designing ITS-Park Example Garage Modules

I have previously demonstrated the theoretical possibilities of large space and economic savings through the construction of ITS-Park garages which are designed to store smaller cars than today’s SUV’s. My results are summarized below. Of course, these rough estimates need verification through realistic designs by veteran garage designers.

Car type Square feet/vehicle Cubic feet/vehicle Cost/vehicle*
SUV self-park 282 2500 $13,000 to $29,000
Camry ITS-Park 197 1515 $7,000 to $15,400
Mini-Cooper ITS-Park 140 980 $5,200 to $11,000
Transformer ITS-Park 148 775 $3,800 to $8,500

*Depending on suburban or urban setting and land values

The Step One need is to develop preliminary ITS-Park designs – in modular form – that can be used by city planners/designers as elements of improved urban designs for sections/segments of their cities. Cities need a realistic perspective on the potential positive impacts of ITS-Park garages when combined with new urban designs. For Step One, I suggest the following process:

  1. Garage design experts work jointly with materials associations to create realistic ITS-Park modular designs (funding source to be decided). I envision, at least within the U.S. context, one garage designer working with The Aluminum Association; another with the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute; another with the American Institute of Steel Construction. These teams will meet with together, including auto and technology industry representatives, to define preliminary requirements/assumptions for their designs, such as:
    • Each module to hold 500 cars
    • Three design sizes and weights, such as:
  • Module A – 15 feet long by 5 foot high by 6 feet wide; weight TBD
  • Module B – 12 feet long by 5 feet high by xx wide; weight TBD
  • Module C (transformer car) – 12 feet long by 3.3 feet high by 5.7 feet wide; weight TBD
    • Load/unload lobby assumed input/output dwell times
    • Lobby design means for separating cars and pedestrians
    • Each ITS-Park garage three floors high
    • Vehicles movement speeds, accuracies and clearances

2. The expected outputs from the design work will be:

(A) A set of plans that can be used by city urban design teams, including floor plans, structure and exterior concept.

(B) Estimated price range per module.

(C) Expected garage external vehicle queuing needs

ITS-Park is now just a gleam in my eye. I like to believe that it also is a gleam in the eye of all the “lurkers” on this blog who I have yet to hear from. I’d especially like to hear comments from professionals who have been deeply involved in the design of self-park and mechanical garages. Is it possible at this early date to produce preliminary ITS-Park module designs that would be sufficiently relevant for cities to use as references? What sources of funding might be possible? My next blog post will delve into the questions of Stap Two – What cities might do with these preliminary ITS-Park module designs.


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