Sharjah: A Sharjah building has found a novel way around limited parking spaces and heated squabbles in the city's scarce parking lots — a robotic valet system that collects, parks and delivers your car.
Tenants of the aptly-named Robot Park Tower at Al Qasba simply give a "missed call" from their mobile phone to a dedicated number when they are pulling into the building.
A garage shutter slides up to let the car in and the driver leaves after turning off the car engine. Security cameras and "human sensors" ensure the gate closes only when there is nobody inside and the car is firmly in position in the parking grooves (like those found in automatic car washes).
One "whoosh!" and the car is gone.
Powerful motors, cables and machines sweep away the parking platform [like an elevator] and zip it upwards along 200 parking "cells" stacked up 31 floors and when a free slot is found the door slides open and the car is pushed into the available slot.
When the tenant wants to head out again, another ‘missed call' brings the car back to the exit ramp, located behind the 35-storey building having 175 apartments.
The entire process takes just 45 seconds for each car, the building management said.
"It's so simple and easy. I don't have to worry about finding parking, or bumps and scratches when negotiating a tight space. You just take your keys and go," said Palestinian tenant Umm Yousuf.
"My husband hasn't taken robot parking and he's always a bit late because he has to drive around looking for [parking] space."
Another tenant, Jordanian expat Ameen Sara, added: "It's safe and quick — and has parking any time of day. It's like a chauffeur service, but faceless. It's worth the Dh5,000-a-year fee."
The service is absolutely unique for any residential block in the UAE, claimed building manager George Chami. And towering at a little over 100 metres, it is also believed to be the world's tallest residential robotised parking lot, he added.
What's more, at a working speed of four metres per second, it may very well be the world's fastest such facility, a technician for the UAE-based manufacturer, East & West Robotics, said.
The company website says the service "requires no human attendant" and so prevents "parking accidents and thefts". However, there are control room staff on hand round the clock for "extra help and system monitoring", the technician added.
"Rush hour here means you might have to wait a minute or two before your turn comes up. Then it's another minute to your apartment door."