Motivated by the fact that Maryland has multiple parking facilities that are at capacity such that commuters spend time searching for parking spaces to a point that can negatively impact their decision to take the commuter rail or rapid transit, this study evaluated a pilot deployment of an Automated Valet Parking (AVP) technology, implemented from March 2019 to June 2021, to test the benefits transit agencies can obtain from deploying automated parking technology. This study is a part of the Transit Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis (IDEA) Program, funded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) as part of the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) to support development and testing of innovative solutions for advancing transit practice. The deployment involved operation of low-speed automated vehicles in the parking lots of two Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) train stations in suburban Maryland, equipped with a software kit enabling vehicles to drive and park autonomously within mapped parking lots and garages (equivalent to Society of Automotive Engineers [SAE] Level Four autonomous driving). In addition, four surveys of 164 MARC commuter rail riders were conducted during the pilot study.
- Consider optimal parking design for an efficient AVP deployment. It is better to deploy AVP in lots with straight parking spots. Angled parking may not be ideal for maximizing the benefits of this technology
- Equip CAVs with a reliable and secure cellular connection for safe operation. For transit stations that have parking garages, additional infrastructure may be needed to boost the cellular signal required for the CAVs.
- Perform pre-deployment site assessments to determine any low signal strength areas. For surface lots, large surrounding buildings or trees may affect the cellular signal strength of the CAVs, and such areas could be excluded from the custom CAV maps.
- Incorporate designated AVP-only zones into custom CAV mapping plans. This would clearly designate the compact parking spaces at the newly mapped stations and maximize the space-saving benefits at each station due to the close distances that the CAVs can park.