Pictured above is a functioning model of an automated underground parking structure which was built and used, but obviously it never caught on widely. That makes us a bit sad, as it removes the need to find an empty parking spot every time you use the garage; and having a robot park your car for you seems very future-y.
The gist of the ROTOPARK system is a carousel and elevator system for parking cars. just drive into a single-stall garage at ground level, take your ticket, and walk out the people-hole. The garage stall floor is a sled which moves down an elevator (shown as blue stalls on the left half of the image) to be stored away in the rotating carousels of cars.
Obviously mechanical failure is a huge issue here. What if the elevator breaks? Also, at times of high traffic we think getting your vehicle back out of the system would be quite a bit slower than the “static” parking garages we’re used to. Oh well, maybe some day. Check out the classic marketing video after the break which shows off the concept, construction, and use of the system.
The working version was actually built at the Geneva Airport. We found some extra info in a YouTube comment but couldn’t find a source for the info so take it for what it’s worth:
The ROTOPARK was commissioned in 1974. It had a capacity of 450 cars. But only 2 rings have been put into service, a capacity of 180 cars.
In 1975-1976, they tried to serve two inner rings without success.
Since 1988, mechanical problems have damaged the vehicles.
In June 1993, the operation was stopped.
You can find a little bit of info, including promotional brochures from the ’70s and ’80s on this page.If nothing else, the system certainly reminds us of the underground bicycle parking structures in service in Tokyo.
Retrotechtacular is a weekly column featuring hacks, technology, and kitsch from ages of yore. Help keep it fresh by sending in your ideas for future installments.