Automatic car parks – dating back to 1905 but still almost non-existent


If you live in a big city or frequently have to drive through one you know how hard it is to find a car park and then a free space there – it takes more time to drop your car off than to actually drive there. But there is something to save the day – automatic car parks.

There are quite a few automatic car parks already existing in the world in such large and busy cities like New York and Tokyo and there are some more under way in London and several other cities as well.

So, how does it work exactly? Imagine you would drive to a car park, get a ticket and leave the car at the entrance. Your vehicle would then be scanned by the system in order to determine its size and would automatically be allocated to a free space via a conveyer. Since the system knows the size of your car it can put two small Mini Coopers together in order to save up a full space for a large SUV.

Automated car parks are much more convenient for busy city dwellers, as dropping your car at the entrance saves a lot of time of driving around and looking for a place. Another benefit is that you can be sure your car won’t be scratched by some inaccurate drivers or other cars’ doors and certainly won’t be stolen. Automatic car parks provide safety not only for the cars but for the passersby as well – as there is no need to walk inside the car park all accidents are eliminated.

The parking tickets at such automated car parks would obviously be more expensive than normal ones but people are more likely to pay more for convenience, efficiency and safety.

Apart from several fully automated car parks already existing in the world, there are also a lot of parkings having just a few automatic features. Some surprisingly go back as far as the 1900s. The concept was first developed due to a need for more parking spaces and the scarcity of land. Same logic is behind the construction of skyscrapers – a tall building occupies just a small area of the ground but the overall space available to still large. In the automated parks scenario the land is saved and the level of efficiency rises up sky-high. The earliest application of such system dates back to 1905, Garage at Rue de Ponthieu in France, where an elevator was used to lift cars up to next levels. Fully automatic car parks only came to life later in the 50s in America.

Now, why don’t we have automatic car parks everywhere if they are so great and have existed for about a hundred years? Possibly due to high costs of building such a system and a need to find free land. And since the main purpose of such car parks is in saving space in large cities, you would first have to find that extra space. Walk around town and try to find a piece of land large enough to accommodate a car park. Sounds impossible, doesn’t it?

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