Scouring a multi-story car-park to find a space can be an unforgiving task. It's not necessary, however, at a new multi-story lot at the Dokk1 community complex in Aarhaus, Denmark. Drivers leave their cars with an automated system, which picks them up and carries them to a space.
"Drivers park their car at ground level in one of 20 booths and receive a ticket," says CEO of Lödige Industries Philippe De Backer. "The booth is the interface between the driver and the car park. From the moment the driver parks his car, everything is automatic."
We've seen similar systems elsewhere before, such as Serva's Ray autonomous robotic parking systems used at Audi and at Düsseldorf Airport. The automated car-park at Dokk1, however, is said to be Europe's largest.
Designed by Lödige, the technology used is based on a slightly different approach to that of Serva. Both are pallet-free, meaning the cars themselves are picked up rather than being placed on platforms upon which they're carried and stored. Pallet-free systems are said to be quicker and more efficient as they do not require empty pallets to be transported between car movements.
However, whereas both systems pick up the cars themselves, the Ray system does so using large robots that approach them from the side and lift them up with two pairs of forklift-type bars for the front and rear wheels respectively. In contrast, Lödige's technology uses low-profile robotic platforms that run along tracks in the floor. The platforms position themselves underneath the center of a car before extending a pair of arms out to each wheel in a pincer-like fashion, to lift the car just enough so that it can be transported.
According to Lödige, the Dokk1 car-park can accommodate up to 1,000 cars across three floors, well above the 300 cars that it says most automated car-parks can accommodate. The firm's robots are be controlled by Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, which it claims is a world-first in an industrial application, and can apparently work with cars of any type and size.
When a user wants their car returned, the system is said to deliver them in less than two minutes 85 percent of the time. There is also a "shopping drop-off" functionality that allows users to call their car from its space, put their purchased items inside of it, and then send their car back to its space so that they can carry on shopping.
The automated system is said to reduce the time taken to both park and reclaim cars, and to protect vehicles from the scratches and bumps that are picked up in non-automatic car-parks. Lödige says that, despite the benefits of its system, it need not be any more expensive for the driver than normal parking.
The video below shows the system in action.