Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Thursday February 01 2007

Another cute gadget!  (Thank you Gizmodo.) But this time a rather big one, and this time it’s a robot car park in New York:

The technology has had a good track record overseas, but the only other public robotic garage in the United States has been troublesome, dropping vehicles and trapping cars because of technical glitches.

Nonetheless, the developers of the Chinatown garage are confident with the technology and are counting on it to squeeze 67 cars in an apartment-building basement that would otherwise fit only 24, accomplished by removing a ramp and maneuver space normally required.

I imagine there are lots of these in places like Hong Kong and Singapore and Tokyo, where space is a zillion dollars a cubic inch.

I wonder if the Chinatown location has anything to do with Chinese people already being familiar with this sort of thing.  Maybe not.  I mean, I don’t even know if Chinese people live in New York’s version of Chinatown any more.

There are other advantages to this particular carpark:

Rather, the garage itself does the parking. The driver stops the car on a pallet and gets out. The pallet is then lowered into the innards of the garage, and transported to a vacant parking space by a computer-controlled contraption similar to an elevator that also runs sideways.

There is no human supervision, but an attendant will be on hand to accept cash and explain the system to baffled humans.

Pictures:

imageimageimageimage

By the way I think it does make sense for me to be nicking my occasional favourites from off of the gadget blogs.  Most people wouldn’t have the time or the interest to trawl through all the stuff on Gizmodo, or engadget.  Most of the stuff at these places is games consols and computers, and as far as most people are concerned a games consol or computer is just one more games consol or computer.  Here’s a box, just like those other boxes that are just like it, but maybe a bit better, and then again maybe not.  Picture!  I don’t mind reading through this, or at least scrolling past it, every day or two.  But, how many people want anything whatsoever to do with, to take a typical gadget blog gadget, Sharp’s dual-lens, uber-bright XG-PH0X DLP projector, even if it is uber-bright, and even if it is a DLP projector rather than of the regular old pre-DLP variety?  It’s a projector.  Big deal.  But the first half decent looking automated car park in the USA, which nearly trebles the number of cars you can fit into the space previously consumed by regular car parks, and which parks your car for you untouched by human hand, is something else again.  Well, I think it is.  (I think car parks matter.) As was, in its completely different way, the day before yesterday’s tiny printer.

As for those cars being dropped or lost or whatever, in the first and rather bug-ridden robot car park in the USA, well, all technology does this kind of thing at first.  I’m surprised it didn’t swallow the car before the driver had got out, automatically lock his car for him, just to be on the safe side you understand, and then starve him to death inside it.  Not that this would have been such a terrible thing.  As Americans say when discussing Iraq bomb deaths, this is an acceptable price.

After doing all that, I started googling for other robot car parks (I really must learn to do this first), and found this and this.  Then, I thought, what’s to lose I’ll try some Flickring, and got to this, which is in Roppongi, I think, which is in Tokyo, I think.

Someone told me once that an old Theatre in Greenwich was demolished and replaced with a mechanical car park on similar lines to this, palletised parking with mechanical movement.

Apparently it broke down spectacularly on its first day, never opened again and was demolished a few years later.

Posted by Ian grey on 02 February 2007

Didn’t we see this in the 60’s in Thunderbirds? I recall a valet garage where you parked and something like an oversized scoop picked up your car and stuck it in a box on a wall. Odd to see real life catching up with 60’s children’s fantasy.

That Swatch thing looks rather oddly like the Vesnin Brothers plans for the Leningrad Pravda Building in 1924.

Posted by Julian Taylor on 02 February 2007

A great many Chinese people live in and around New York’s Chinatown. While nearby Little Italy has shrunk to the point where it is now little more than a small tourist attraction, Chinatown has swallowed the rest of it, and indeed sizeable areas all around Canal Street.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 03 February 2007
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