Retrotechtacular: ROTOPARK is a Futuristic Parking Structure from 40 Years Ago

retrotechtacular-rotopark

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.

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Autonomous battery exchange


That may look like a Ferris wheel but it acts a battery replacement station for small robots. The marXbot heads to the battery station when it gets low on juice. Once in the cradle, arms on each side hold the bot in place while the low battery is sucked out and a fresh one from the 15-slot carousel is inserted. The robot doesn’t power down but relies on stored electricity from some large capacitors during the changeover. See it happen after the break.

A while ago we saw a robot that could plug itself into a wall outlet. That’s great because the robot doesn’t have to return to a charging station, but it still has to wait for its battery to top off. With a few strategically placed battery stations it’s easy to keep a robot up and running with almost no down time for a battery swap.

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Jet powered hijinks

This jet powered carousel is brought to you by the Madagascar Institute. They convene, or collide, to create large scale art, sculptures, and rides. This one seems to fit the last definition. The two gentlemen are strapped to a jet powered carousel. It actually looks pretty fun, but we would have been needing some fresh shorts after the jet bursts into flames near the end. He didn’t seem too concerned, he wasn’t screaming and flailing his arms at least.