Having spent many years getting real estate projects off the ground, Scott Gable came to understand that getting cars off the ground is just as critical to development. "Five years ago, we determined that one of the biggest limitations to new construction in the U.S. was the amount of space required to meet the parking needs for new buildings," says Gable. His solution? CityLift Parking, an automated system that uses sensors and lifts to stack cars efficiently in parking towers.

Automated parking has long been popular in Europe and Asia, but introducing it to the U.S. meant convincing cities and developers that it works. CityLift's automated system can convert the square footage needed for seven traditional parking spaces into 39 spaces. What's more, at about $17,000 per space, automated garages tend to be slightly cheaper to build than traditional garages--and can shrink an auto's carbon footprint by reducing the amount of time the driver spends searching for a spot.

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Drivers leave their vehicles in a ground-floor bay, tap a screen, and the lift takes it from there, moving horizontally and vertically to dock cars in designated bays. CityLift's garages come in four styles: Tower, Puzzle, Aisle, and Stacker. The Hive parking garage, seen here, is a seven-level Tower structure located in Oakland, California. The Tower can go up to 20 levels.

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Though the company now has 70,000 units installed in 13 countries, growth hasn't always been easy. "It can be three or four years from the initial sale until we actually sign a contract," says Gable, "and then another couple of years before we get the project built."