US 20020039526 A1
A garage has increased parking capacity for vehicles. A parking level has water filling the parking structure so that boats or floating platforms may fill the parking level. The only passageway needed is that which will accommodate the boats or platforms. Vehicles entering the garage are driven onto an endless belt and this belt drives the vehicle onto a platform having another endless belt. When exiting the vehicle's belt drives it off the platform to an exit area. Multiple levels accommodate even larger capacity garages. A computer can control entry, exit, and movement of the platforms to random locations and/or to elevators in multiple level garages.
1. A parking garage comprising:
at least one structure filled with liquid;
a plurality of transporting devices that float on said liquid;
a source of power;
said transporting devices each connected to said source of power and each having a mechanism for moving said transporting devices along said liquid;
said structure having at least one entry and at least one exit for vehicles;
said one entry having a first moving mechanism for moving vehicles;
said one exit having a second moving mechanism for moving vehicles;
whereby a vehicle may be moved from said at least one entry by said first moving mechanism onto one of said plurality of transporting devices, and
whereby a vehicle may be moved from one of said plurality of transporting devices onto said second moving mechanism to said at least one exit.
2. One parking garage of
3. The parking garage of
4. The parking garage of
5. A parking garage having a plurality of levels comprising:
each of said plurality of levels filled with liquid;
each of said plurality of levels having a plurality of transporting devices that float on said liquid, a source of power, said transporting devices each connected to said source of power, and each having a mechanism for moving said transporting devices along said liquid;
a first level of said plurality of levels having at least one entry and at least one exit for vehicles, said one entry having a first moving mechanism for moving vehicles, said one exit having a second moving mechanism for moving vehicles;
whereby a vehicle may be moved from said at least one entry by said first moving mechanism onto one of said plurality of transporting devices;
and whereby a vehicle may be moved from one said plurality of transporting devices onto said second moving mechanism to said at least one exit;
at least one elevator for transporting vehicles from said first level to another selected level; and
at least another elevator for transporting vehicles from any level to said first level.
6. The parking garage of
7. The parking garage of
8. The parking garage of
 Airports and downtown areas have multiple parking levels because land is scarce and expensive.
 As the population increases in already crowded areas the places allocated for parking facilities decrease. This growth in population is in conflict with the need to set aside areas for parking.
 Solutions include stacking cars or vehicles one above the other on platforms, the use of satellite parking areas near major airports.
 Such solutions tend to be expensive and parking levels and off site parking areas still have unused space for driving vehicles into and out of parking spaces.
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,804,305 uses platforms floatable in liquid. Each of the platforms has guides and the platforms are guided along support structures.
 The object of the invention is to provide for increased parking space compared to conventional garages. To this end floatable platforms carry cars that are randomly placed within a liquid filled structure. Since the parking levels use floating boats or platforms considerably less space is needed than in conventional garages. This is because conventional garages need a path to drive a car and a large enough area for a car to turn around both for parking and exiting. In some garages the drive path needs to be wide enough to accommodate at least two car widths. In some garages the drive path may take up half of the total floor space area. In contrast this invention needs no driving path except the one used in entering the garage which is minuscule.
 The object of the invention is to provide an automated parking facility. A car approaches an entrance area and stops on an endless belt. A computer driven system takes over when the driver obtains a card from a gated entryway. When the driver pushes a button or the like a computer initiates action. The computer records the date and time of day from which fees will be determined and dispenses a card to the driver, which identifies the car.
 The computer keeps track of available parking slots, such as which platforms are empty and not in use. The computer will then cause the endless belt on which the car is parked to move the car onto another endless belt to be forwarded to en elevator if necessary.
 The parking facility or garage has elevators that take the vehicles up to a parking level and down to the ground level. The elevator will take the car to an appropriate level as determined by the computer and move it onto a floating platform. When the driver returns to retrieve the car the card is placed into a card reader which initiates the delivery of the car. The driver pays the fee and can get into the car and drive off.
FIG. 1 is a top view of a ground level parking facility;
FIG. 2 is a side view of an automated garage system:
FIG. 3 shows a car on a floating boat or platform; and
FIG. 4 shows a floor plan of a typical parking level.
FIG. 1 is a top view of the ground parking level at a parking facility. Cars 101, 102 are at entrances 10, 12 and positioned on endless belts 103, 104 having entry gates 105, 106. The driver will get out of the car, for example 101 and go to entry gate 105, which will dispense a card to the driver. The cards are encoded with the date, time and other suitable indicia to identify the vehicle. The driver takes the dispensed card, leaving behind the car, which is braked and in a park position. This completes the driver's activities.
 The dispensing of the card may initiate the motion of the endless belt associated with the card dispenser. By way of example endless belt 103 will move car 101 onto the first of a series of endless belts 103 a to 103 h. Numerals 101 a to 101 c represent cars that are queued, awaiting belt delivery to UP elevator 107, while car 101 d is on elevator 107 being taken to a suitable parking level. It is a feature of the present invention that cars, or other vehicles, may be left by the driver at an entrance and leave the premises while the automated nature of the parking facility moves and parks the car, all without the driver waiting for it to be parked. Thus if there is a busy time the driver need not wait for the cars 101 a-101 d to be parked; car 101 will be moved onto endless belt 103 a.
 Suitable sensors and controls will automatically move car 101 behind 101 a. After car 101 d has been delivered to an appropriate parking level, the elevator returns to the ground level and car 101 c is moved onto the UP elevator 107, and the queue is moved forward one endless belt at a time.
 DOWN elevators 110, 112 will go to a parking level when called for and a car will be moved onto the endless belt associated with the DOWN elevator. By way of example, car 115 is on DOWN elevator 111 while car 116 is leaving DOWN elevator 112 on a series of endless belts 120 a to 120 c. At an appropriate exit location the driver pays the fee, enters his car, and drives off. The exit area may have another gate receptive to the payment of the fee to raise a gate and permit exiting of the facility.
 The number of entrances and exits is the subject of choice and design. Clearly, different locations will require more or less entrances and exits that other locations. The location of the UP and DOWN elevators is also subject to design and choice. A location such as shown in FIG. 1 for the UP elevators affords a longer queue line. The DOWN elevators are shown as more or less centrally located to afford less time to retrieve a car at a level as will be seen.
FIG. 2 is a side view of an automated garage system having a plurality of parking levels although only one level may be needed depending on the actual site and the number of vehicles to be handled. Six levels 21 - 26 are shown with car 201 at an entrance, cars 201 a-201 c queued, and car 201 d on UP elevator 207.
 UP elevator 207 takes the vehicle to one of the levels where it is moved onto a transporting device such as a floating platform. The platform may be moved to any open area on that level.
 It is possible to have only a single level if the amount of expected traffic can be handled by a single level. Then no elevators are needed and the cars are moved directly onto a platform. Even with a single level considerable space is saved compared to conventional garages.
FIG. 3 shows vehicle 30 on a boat or platform 31 floating on liquid 32 such as water. Endless belt 33 is used to move the vehicle onto boat 31 from the ground level, where no elevating mechanism is used, or from an elevator where an elevating mechanism is used. In either event the vehicle may now be moved to any location on the selected parking level. An upstanding pole 34 at the end of platform 31 has a locator beacon 35 and extends upwardly to a suitable source of power 36 below ceiling. A motor 37 derives power from the source and drives ajet water stream exiting from nozzle 38 by which the boat may be rotated through 360 degrees if necessary and moved along the liquid to any parking space.
 The power source 36 extends along the length and width of the ceiling so that a boat with its upstanding pole is always at a source of power no matter where the boat is located. Since the boat encounters little friction with water the motor 37 may be small sized since little power is required to move the boat 31 along a liquid. Water is the preferred liquid although other liquids may be used.
 The locator beacon 35 operates as a receiver for commands sent from a computer driven card reader. When the vehicle is to be retrieved the card is inserted into a card reader which immediately calculates an appropriate fee and sends a signal identifying that particular vehicle. The locator beacon receives this signal and the boat or platform will be driven by action of the motor and jet stream to a DOWN elevator station from where the vehicle is taken to the ground level and can then exit from the garage upon payment of the fee. Obviously if there are no levels at the parking facility or the vehicle is on a parking level already at ground level no elevator comes into action.
FIG. 4 shows the floor plan of a typical parking level. Depending on the site there may be a need for multiple elevators. Numerals 40, 41 represent two UP elevators and numerals 42, 43 represent DOWN elevators. Numerals 45 a-45 f represent boats with vehicles on them. Numerals 46 a-46 d represent empty boats. The number of boats needed will depend on the area of the associated parking level.
 A newly arrived vehicle is shown on a transporting device such as boat 45 d just exiting the UP elevator 41, while 45 d represents a vehicle on its way to some parking level. Numeral 45 c is a boat with a vehicle on it and is approaching DOWN elevator 42 while a vehicle is seen at DOWN elevator 43 on its way to the ground station.
 Boats 45 a, 45 f, 46 a and 46 d are floating randomly waiting a signal and this is representative of an important feature of the present invention. Some parking garages require the active participation of a parking attendant, or perhaps even the driver. The present invention eliminates this need. Further, an open parking space must be found. Typically a driver will drive several floors up and go back down again because the garage is near full capacity. A great deal of time is spent looking for parking spaces leading to frustration. With the present invention no such wasted time exists. The driver leaves his car at the entrance and never needs to hunt for a parking space. The automated nature of the invention means that a computer can determine where the empty boats are, that is, those boats without tiny car or vehicle on them. The computer may fill one level at a time and then go on filling the next level. The queuing is done by the endless belts and not by the driver or parking attendant.