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Publication numberUS3710956 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJan 16, 1973
Filing dateJul 29, 1971
Priority dateJul 29, 1971
Publication numberUS 3710956 A, US 3710956A, US-A-3710956, US3710956 A, US3710956A
InventorsJoseph H, Meyer H
Original AssigneeJoseph H, Meyer H
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Vehicle packing facility with a vertically extensible mast
US 3710956 A
Abstract
A multi-level automated parking facility in which automobiles are parked in pallets located at preselected areas surrounding a vertical shaft. A mast carrying a transverse book is movable vertically within the shaft and can be rotated to position the boom in a desired angular orientation. The boom is also axially movable to place its end over a selected pallet location, after which a lift carriage carried at the end of the boom may be latched onto or released from the pallet.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 1 1 Meyer et al.

1 1 Jan. 16,1973

[54] VEHICLE PACKING FACILITY WITH A VERTICALLY EXTENSIBLE MAST [76] Inventors: Hans P. Meyer, 1 Willowbrook Road, White Plains, N.Y. 10605; Hans 11. Joseph, 20 Dongan Place, New York, N.Y. 10040 [22] Filed: July 29, 1971 [21] Appl. No.: 167,341

[52] US. Cl ..214/l6.1 CE, 214/l6.1 A, 212/48, 212/55 [51] Int. Cl. ..E04h 6/06 [58] Field of Search ..2l2/33-34; 214/16.lC,l6.1CC,16.1CE,16.1A

[5 6] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,828,308 10/1931 Been ..214/l6.lCE

2,349,389 5/1944 Thompson ..2l4/l6.l C 2,670,859 3/1954 Zeckendorf et al. ..214/l6.l CE 3,084,813 4/1963 3,559,822 2/1971 Lichtenford ..2l5/l6.4 A

Primary Examiner-Gerald M. Forlenza Assistant Examiner-R. B Johnson Att0rneySandoe, Hopgood and Calimafde 57 ABSTRACT A multi-level automated parking facility in which automobiles are parked in pallets located at preselected areas surrounding a vertical shaft. A mast carrying a transverse book is movable vertically within the shaft and can be rotated to position the boom in a desired angular orientation. The boom is also axially movable to place its end over a selected pallet location, after which a lift carriage carried at the end of therboom may be latched onto or released from the pallet.

20 Claims, 14 Drawing Figures L l l PATENTEDJAN 16 ms 3.710.956

sum 2 0F 6 PATENTED AH 16 I975 3.710.956

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n 1 U I Hill w 11H? i I l FYI I 11 4E; W JI /W W 4V TTORNE VEHICLE PACKING FACILITY WITH A VERTICALLY EXTENSIBLE MAST The present invention relates generally to parking facilities, and more particularly to an automated automobile parking facility for use in congested urban areas.

The ever increasing use of the automobile in urban areas has created serious disturbances in the pattern of urban life. With the continuing growth of the suburbs and the prevailing difficulties in providing adequate and reliable rapid transit facilities for conveying suburban commuters into and out of the commercial areas in the large urban areas, automobiles remain a major mode of daily transportation into the already crowded downtown urban areas.

While the resulting traffic congestion in the streets and the accompanying pollution of the air are in themselves serious problems to urban planners, there is also the problem of providing adequate parking facilities for those automobiles entering the cities. In an attempt to deal with this problem, parking lots and multi-level parking garages are commonly located in the business sections of almost every city. The former are simply open areas at the street level in which cars are parked, usually by an attendant, for a desired period. Upon redemption by the owner by the display of a ticket, the parked car is retrieved by the attendant and returned to the owner.

To overcome the inefficient use of parking lots, many cities now contain multi-level parking garages or facilities. In many of these facilities, the driver drives up a ramp to an available area provided on one of the levels. Upon the completion of the business day, the owner rides an elevator to the level at which his car is parked and then drives the car down the ramp to the street level.

While this arrangement is somewhat more efficient in its use of space than the parking lot, the necessity of the ramp and linking lanes at each level, to permit the automobile to be driven between the street level and the parking area, takes away much of the space that could be otherwise employed for parking. The requirement that the driver maneuver his car up and down the ramp between the parking and street levels also creates the likelihood of accidents and may create traffic jams within the parking facility, particularly during the peak morning and evening hours of traffic.

Other multi-level garages are provided with elevators to lift the automobile from the street level to the parking level, and to thereafter return the car to the street level when called for by the owner. While the use of the elevator further increases the available space for parking, attendants are still required to move the automobile both to and from the elevator with the attendant likelihood of damage to the car during parking by attendants who are often indifferent to the condition of the automobile. Moreover, these garages still require the provision of valuable space for the movement of cars to and from their ultimate parking areas.

tively complex and expensive. Moreover, the mechanism in many of these systems itself occupies a considerable amount of space. Moreover, many of these proposed parking facilities still require the use of personnel to place the automobile at its ultimate parking area and require a relatively long period of time for automobile parking and retrieval. As a result, the proposed automated garages have met with no significant acceptance- It is an object of the invention to provide an automated parking facility in which optimum use is made of the available space. 7

It is a further object of the invention to provide an automated parking facility in which a minimum amount of time is required both to park and deliver the car upon demand.

It is another object of the invention to provide a fully automated automobile parking facility requiring a minimum number of operating personnel.

It is yet a further object of the invention to provide an automated automobile parking facility of the type described which is reliable in operation and which requires relatively few mechanical components that take up a relatively small volume in the facility.

In the furtherance of these ends, the automated parking facility of the invention is in the form of a multilevel structure in which each level is laid out in a pattern defining automobile storage areas. A vertical shaft is formed in the structure and accommodates the mast of a crane. The mast, which carries a transverse boom at its upper end, is capable of being positioned at preselected vertical levels within the shaft. The mast is capable as well of being rotated to a preselected angular position.

The boom supported by the mast in turn carries at one end a lift-carriage assembly which is adapted to be securely latched to a pallet or skid located at a parking Several proposals have been made to increase the area, and which is in turn designed to support and carry an automobile. The other end of the boom carries a counterweight for balancing the weight of the loaded skid. Both ends of the boom, that is, the ends respectively carrying the lift carriage and counterweight, are both axially extendible in opposite directions with respect to the central longitudinal axis of the vertically extendible mast to provide balance for the boom.

Each parking area at the levels of the garage can thus be defined in terms of a polar-coordinate system by the vertical and angular position of the mast and the radial (axial) position of the boom. That is, to position the lift carriage to either park or remove an automobile from a designated parking area, the mast is indexed to preset vertical and angular positions, and the boom is moved to a preset radial position with respect to the axis of the mast, to thereby position the end of the boom carrying the lift carriage mechanism directly over the designated parking area.

The automated parking system of the invention'also includes means for balancing the automobile on the skid and for maintaining the skid in a desired horizontal position that is corrected for changes in the loading of the skid. The entire system is preferably under the control of a computer which operates in response to an input code associated with the designated parking area to position the mast and boom in height, angular position, and radial distance, to in turn precisely locate the FIG. 7;

lift carriage over the selected parking area at the designated level. I

To the accomplishment of the above and to such further objects as may hereinafter appear, the present invention relates to an automatic automobile parking facility, substantially as defined in the appended claims and as described in the following specification taken together with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. '1 is a plan view of an intermediate level of the parking facility of the invention as viewed in the direction of the arrow 11 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 2 is a vertical cross-section of the parking facility of the invention;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the upper end of the mast, the boom, and the lift carriage carrying the automobile pallet of the automated parking facility of the invention;

FIG. 4 is a plan view as viewed in the direction of the arrows 4-4 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a vertical cross-section taken along the line 5-5 of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a cross-section taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 4;

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary view, on an enlarged scale relative to FIG. 6, of the skid latching mechanism of the parking facility of the invention shown prior to locking engagement? FIG. 8 is a cross-section taken across line 8-8 of FIG. 9 is a view similar to that of FlG. 7 with the mechanism in the condition for latching the skid to the lift mechanism;

FIG. 10 is a cross-section taken across line 10-10 of FIG. 9;

FIG. 11 is a cross-section of the telescoping boom of the facility of the invention;

FIG. 12 is a cross-section taken across the line 12- 12 of FIG. 1 l;

FIG. 13 is a cross-section taken across the line 13- 13ofFIG. ll;and

FIG. 14 is a fragmentary view, partly in cross-section, of the mast vertical and angular indexing portion of the automated parking system of the invention.

The automatic parking facility of the invention provides means for automatically parking and returning a parked automobile to the owner in which optimum utilization is made of the available space in the parking structure. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the facility includes a multi-level structure 10, here shown as having three levels 10a -l0c and a roof 10d. The structure also includes a central, vertical shaft l2 which extends the entire height of the structure and is rectangular in section, as can be seen best in FIG. 1.

Each level in the structure is laid out in the form of a grid or matrix of intersecting transverse and longitudinal rows which define a plurality of automobile storage areas 14 surrounding shaft 12 at each level. Areas 14 are each adapted to have a single automobile stored thereat in a manner more completely described in alater part of the specification.

Each of the storage areas 14 is thus defined by the level on which it is located and by its matrix or coordinate address position at that level. A crane assembly generally designated 16 is positioned within shaft 12 and includes a vertical mast 18 which is indexed for controlled vertical movement within shaft 12, and for rotation to preselected angular positions about a complete circle. Mast 18 carries at its upper level a transverse boom 20, which in turn carries an automobile lift carriage 22 at one of its ends.

As is more completely described in a later part of the application, boom 20 is movable angularly along with mast l8 and is independently movable axially with respect to the mast, to thereby permit lift carriage 22 to be positioned over any selected one of storage areas 14. In this manner, a car such as 24 supported by carriage 22 may be carried to and parked at the selected area, or in the alternative, an automobile previously parked at that area may be removed therefrom by lift carriage 22 and transported to the ground level to its owner.

As shown in FIG. 3, boom 20 is carried approximately at its center at the upper end of mast l8 and has a counterweight 26 carried on the end opposite to that carrying lift carriage 22. As described more completely below with respect to FIG. 11, the opposite ends of the boom each include telescopically arranged sections enabling the ends of the boom to move in opposite axial or radial directions; the lift carriage carrying end moving to the selected storage areas, the counterweight moving to a position to balance the weight of the loaded lift carriage 22.

Carriage 22 includes a rectangular carrier plate 28 having one end of a support rod 30 centrally secured .thereto. The upper end of rod 30 is in turn operativ ely engaged to an electric motor 32 secured to the free end of boom 20, as will be described more completely below with reference to FIGS. 11 and 12. Plate 28 includes means, more completely described below with reference to FIGS. 7l0, to selectively latch and unlatch onto a pallet or skid 34. Skids 34, which are normally positioned at the storage areas 14, are each of sufficient size and structural strength to house and support an automobile, and include elements cooperating with plate 28 for latching the skid to the plate and thus to the lift carriage. When a skid is latched onto plate 28, the former may be rotated by the operation of motor 32 to align the skid into the proper orientation for. placement onto the designated parking area. 7

Before proceeding to a detailed description of the individual components of the parking facility of the invention, it is believed that a general description of the manner of operation of the facility may be of aid in better understanding the invention in view of the description previously given.

Parking an automobile into an available, to wit, va cant storage area is initiated by raising and rotating mast l8 and axially extending boom 20 so that plate 28 is placed into a latched engagement with the empty skid at the selected area at the selected parking level. The crane assembly is thereafter lifted to raise the selected skid above the other skids located on that level, and the boom is retracted such that the skid is completely within the shaft area. The mast is thereafter lowered to bring the empty skid down the shaft to the ground or floor level of the facility.

The automobile is driven onto the skid and the mast is then raised to the parking level, and the mast along with the boom is rotated to the proper angular position, after which the boom is axially extended to position the skid directly over the selected parking area from which it was previously removed. The plate is rotated to bring the skid into the proper position over the parking area. The mast is then lowered to replace the loaded skid into the selected parking area at which time the skid is unlatched from the lift carriage.

To retrieve the parked car from the owner, the crane assembly is directed to the parking area in a manner similarto that described, and the skid and auto are lifted up from the area and returned to the owner at the ground level.

FIGS. 4-6 illustrate in greater detail the construction of the lift carriage and particularly illustrates the manner in which, according to one feature of the invention, the auto skid, when attached to the lift carriage 22, is maintained horizontal even if the automobile is not centrally positioned on the skid. To this end, means are provided for moving the attachment point of bar 30 to a position aligned with the center of gravity of the loaded skid. Thus, the lower end of vertical bar 30 is attached to carriage plate 28 through a self-aligning bearing 36 mounted on carrier plate 28. The opposed edges of plate 28 each carry rollers or wheels 38 which are received within a track 40 formed in rails 42, 44 of a secondary carriage generally designated 46.

Carriage 46 in turn has rollers 48 rotationally mounted on its opposed ends which are respectively received within tracks formed longitudinally in rails 50 and 52 of lift carriage 22. As a result of this construc-.

tion, carrier plate 28 is able to move transversely with respect to lift carriage 22 along rails 42, 44, and carriage 46 is able to move longitudinally with respect to the lift carriage along the tracks formed in rails 50 and 52. A first mercury switch 54 is mounted on transverse rail member 56 of the lift carriage frame, and a second mercury switch 58 is mounted on longitudinal rail 52. Switches 54 and 58 are respectively electrically connected to electric motors 60 and 62 to cause the motors to be operated upon the actuation of the switches.

Motors 60 and 62 are respectively mechanically coupled such as by belt-pulley drive assemblies 64 and 66 to carrier plate 28 and carriage 46.

In operation, when the frame of lift carriage 22 tilts to one side as a result of an off-center placement of an automobile in the skid attached to the lift carriage, mercury switch 54 is actuated causing the operation of motor 60 and drive assembly 64 and the resulting movement of carrier plate 28 along rails 42 and 44 of carriage 46 until horizontal orientation of the lift carriage is restored, at which time mercury switch 54 becomes deactuated.

Similarly, when the lift carriage is tilted in the forward direction, switch 58 is actuated, causing motor 62 and drive assembly 66 to move carriage 46 longitudinally until lift carriage 22 is once again horizontal and switch 58 is deactuated. Thus, whenever the lift carriage is tilted either to the side or forwardly, that condition is sensed by the mercury switches, and the skid carrying bar is repositioned so that horizontally of the lift carriage is restored.

The alignment features may be eliminated by a stiff connection between lift carriage and skid.

The manner in which lift carriage 22 is attached to or released from skid 34 is illustrated in FIGS. 7-10 wherein an angle bracket 68 is shown secured to the underside of lift carriage 22, and a bracket 70 is attached to the upper portion of skid 34. A pin 72 is mounted on bracket 68 and a spring 74 is attached at one end to bracket 68 at a pin 76 and at its other end to a pin 78, the latter in turn being carried on a cam plate 80. Cam plate 80 in turn is mounted on a pin 82 attached to bracket 68 and is permitted a slight vertical movement within a slot 84 formed in cam plate 80. A finger 86 is secured to cam plate 80.

In operation, when the mast is lowered to attach a skid onto the lift carriage, cam plate 80 and finger 86 are in the positions shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, the cam plate being maintained in that position by the undercenter force exerted thereon by means of spring 74. As the lift carriage descends further, a right leg 88 of cam plate 80 engages bracket on skid 34, thereby causing cam plate to move upward by an extent permitted by slot 84 and pivot around the axis of pin 82 in a counter-clockwise direction until the cam plate arrives at its latching position shown in FIGS. 9 and 10. At this time, finger86 carried by the cam plate extends over pin 74 and a finger 90 of cam 80 engages the underside of lateral extension 92 of bracket 70, as shown best in FIG. 9.

Once latching between the lift carriage and skid is achieved in this manner, the mast and lift carriage are raised in a manner to be described in greater detail below. Pin 72 at this time exerts a lifting force on cam plate 80, which is equal to the lifting force exerted by cam plate 80 on bracket 70 of skid 34. Since the moment arm from the axis of pin 72 to the axis of pin 82 is greater than that between point 94, at which finger 90 engages extension 92, and the axis of pin 82, cam plate 80 remains in the latched position while the skid is being raised along with the lift carriage from its storage position to a position above the adjacent skids, to thereby permit the skid to be carried with the axially retracting boom to the central shaft, after which the mast is lowered to bring the lift carriage and skid to the floor level.

When the skid arrives at the floor level, the left leg 96 of cam 80 makes contact with the lower lateral extension 98 of bracket 70 to cause cam plate 80 and finger 86 to rotate about the axis of pin 82 in a clockwise direction, as viewed in FIG. 9, to the released position shown in FIG. 7, the final part of this rotation being aided by the under-center force of spring 74. In this position, the lift carriage latching mechanism, is free of engagement with the skid and the latter is thus released from the lift carriage and crane assembly. When the lift carriage is again lowered, the latching procedure described above is repeated when it is desired to relift the skid to a parking area at an upper level.

An electro-magnetic pickup may serve as an alternative to the cam mechanism.

As described above, the lift carriage is positioned over a selected parking area by selectively indexing the mast in both elevation and in angular position, and by radially positioning the boom to the desired location. The parking areas are thus, in the embodiment of the invention herein specifically described, defined by a polar coordinate system in which the mast establishes the coordinate position along the Z-axis and angle 0, and the boom establishes the location of the parkin area along the p-axis (see FIGS. 1 and 2).

reservoir 104. As shown in FIG. 2, the ram and hydrau lic fluid reservoir are housed beneath the ground level of the facility.

The ram and the mast rise and descend within the shaft in response to pressure changes in the hydraulic 1 fluid in a known manner. Briefly, an increase in the pressure of the fluid in response to a lift signal causes the ram to rise, and a decrease in fluid pressure in response to a descent signal, such as through the actuation of a pressure relief valve (not shown), causes the ram and mast to be lowered, with the fluid fromthe relief valve being discharged to a sump (not shown).

To controlthe vertical position of mast 18, a plurality of switches 106 are inserted into suitably formed openings in the periphery of the mast at preselected levels corresponding to the number of levels in the facility. A contacting ring 108 is fixedly positioned within the shaft at a known elevation. As shown in FIG. 14, mast 18 includes a plurality of reduced diameter portions defining anumber of vertically spaced annular recesses 110 beneath each of switches 106, the number of recesses 110 also corresponding to the number of levels in the .parking structure.

A cylinder 112 positioned just outside and at the lower end of the shaft includes a movable piston 114 having a head 116 and a rod or pin 119 secured to head l16and extending partially into the shaft. Pin 119 is normally biased away from the mast by means of a spring 120 also contained at the inboard portion of cylinder I12, and a quantity of hydraulic fluid 122 is enclosed within a chamber located at the outboard end of the cylinder and is in contact with the outboard end piston head 116. The fluid containing chamber is in communication with a source of hydraulic v fluid through a solenoid controlledvalve 124. and with a sump through a solenoid controlled relief valve 126. When not'ener'gized valve 124 is normally closed, and valve 126 is normally open".

To position the upper end of the mast at a desired level, one of switches 106 is enabled or energized by a control signal by any suitable manner such as by the application of a control voltage to that switch. The mast is causedto move vertically within the shaft in response to fluid pressure applied to ram 100 until the thus enabled switch 106 engages contact ring 108 to thereby close a circuit and energize and open solenoid valve 124 and also energize and close solenoid valve 126. At

to be stabilized by a suitable hydraulic valve control circuit (not shown) so that there is no further vertical movement of the mast.

The opening of valve 124 causes additional fluid to be admitted under pressure into the fluid-containingthe same time, the fluid pressure on 06the ram is caused is positioned within the recess, as shown in FIG. 14 The vertical dimension of recess 1 10 is greater than the diameter of pin 119 to thereby permit limited vertical movement of the mast at the selected level required in the latching and raising (and unlatching and lowering) of the skid and lift carriage described above with respect to FIGS. 7-10.

When it is desired to again move the mast for the purpose of picking up a new skid at a parking area at a different level, the previously enabled one of switches a 106 is deenergized, causing valves 124 and 126 to deenergize, thereby relieving the pressure on piston head 116. Spring 114 at this time again urges pin 119 away from its holding position within recess 1 10, allowing the mast to move freely within the shaft. At the same time, fluid ram pressure is either increased or relieved, depending on the desired direction of mast movement, and a new one of switches 106 for the newly selected level is enabled, to thereby cause the mast to move toward and stop at the newly designated level.

The mast also is rotatable about its vertical axis by means of an electric motor 128 coupled to the mast by a pinion 130 fastened on the output shaft of motor 128 and engaging a bull gear 132 secured to mast 18 in a manner permitting the mast to move vertically independent of the bull gear. To this end, gear 132 is held by bearings 134 within an annular recess 136 formed within the mast base 138. Vertical slots 140 formed in mast 18 permit the mast to move vertically while gear 132 remains vertically fixed. Keys 135, which slide within slots 140, transmit the rotation of gear 132 to the mast 18.

A plurality of angular position switches 142 are positioned about the inner periphery of base 138 at those angular positions to which the mast may be indexed to direct a lift carriage to a selected parking area. A contact arm 144 is secured to and rotates with gear 132.

When one of switches 142 is enabled, motor 128 and gears 130, 132 continue to rotate the mast 18. When an angular position for the mast is selected for a designated parking area, a corresponding one of switches 142 is enabled. When the enabled switch is contacted by arm 144 on the rotating bull gear, motor 128 is deenergized by a suitable control circuit (not shown) and the rotation of the mast is stopped and the mast is maintained at the angular position at which contact was made between arm I44 and the enabled switch 142. To reposition the mast to a new angular position, the enabled switch is thereafter disabled and a new switch 142 is enabled, motor 128 is reenergized, and mast I8 is rotated-to its newly designated angular position until the newly enabled switch is contacted byarm 144.

What has thus far been described is the manner in which the mast is positioned vertically and angularly to establish two of the three coordinates of the selected parking area. The third coordinate is established by radially positioning the end of the boom 20 which, in the embodiment of the invention herein specifically described, is effected by the boom control mechanism illustrated in FIGS. 1 1-13.

As herein shown, the upper end of mast 18 includes a hollow portion 146 which houses an electric motor 148 having pinions 150 and 152 coupled to its outputshaft.

Pinions 150 and 152 are respectively engaged to ball nuts 154 and 156 which rotate on roller bearings 158 and 160. The rotation of motor 146 produces an incremental extension or retraction of the opposite ends of the boom, that is, the end supporting lift carriage 22, and the end carrying counterweight 26, in opposite directions. Since the manner in which the boom ends are axially positioned is substantially identical for each end of the boom, only that for moving the end carrying the lift carriage is disclosed herein, it being understood that this description applies equally well to the incremental radial positioning of the end of the boom carrying the counterweight.

The inner periphery of ballnut 154 engages the outer periphery of an intermediate ballscrew 162 and outer ballscrew 164 is received within the inner periphery of intermediate ball screw 162 which acts as a ballnut for ball screw 164. As shown in FIG. 11 and in greater detail in FIG. 12, the end of extension member 164 carries the lift carriage assembly. a

In operation, motor 148 is caused to perform a.

predetermined number of revolutions corresponding to the desired radial movement of the boom in each direction to position lift carriage 22 over the selected parking area, and counterweight 26 to a position at which it balances the beam at that radial position. A telescoping ball screw assembly of the type illustrated in FIG. 1 1 is commercially available such as that manufactured and distributed by Walter Kidde & Co., ln c., and is thus not further described herein.

Means are required to prevent rotation of the boom as it is extended outwardly from its retracted position. To this end, as seen best in FIGS. 11 and 13, member 164 is secured to the end of a torque bar 166 having a non-circular (here square) cross-section, which slides within a similarly shaped torque tube 168 the latter sliding in turn within the torque tube 170. The latter is secured to the interior of the mast by means of a clamp 172. Stops (not shown) may be provided to prevent the ball screw and torque tubes from extending beyond their limits if required.

In operation, the boom is radially positioned to its desired position by causing a predetermined number of revolutions of motor 148 which in turn produces equal and opposite movement of the ends of the boom respectively carrying the lift carriage and the counterweight. As a result, for any selected position of the boom, the counterweight is positioned at a corresponding radial position to establish substantially equidistant movements with respect to the central axis of the mast by the lift carriage carrying a loaded skid and the counterweight.

It will be required to rotate lift carriage 22 to aling the lift carriage with the parking area to which it is assigned. To this end, electric motor 32 (see also FIG. 3) is carried at the end of member 164 of boom 20. Also carried at the end of boom is a bearing housing 174 from which depends a shaft 176 to which a gear 178 is secured. Gear 178 is meshed with a gear 180 secured to the shaft of motor 32. Gear 78 also carries the upper end of bar which is attached atits lower end to the carrier plate of the lift carriage. The latter may be rotated to its desired orientation by rotating bar 30, which in turn is achieved by rotating motor 32 through a predetermined number of revolutions.

The crane assembly indexing mechanism described above is designed to operate in response to control signals applied from a guidance computer, the design of which is believed to be well within the skill of the average skilled computer designer. Since the guidance computer itself is not considered to be part of our invention, no detailed description of that computer is provided herein to simplify the description of the invention.

The computer selected for operation with the automatic parking facility, according to the specific embodiment thereof described herein, preferably has the capability of producing the necessary signals to control the hydraulic mast control system, illustrated in FIG. 14, and to control the motor and switch control signals which control the number of revolutions of motor 148 (FIG. 11), the actuation of the selected mast elevation switches 106, and the mast angular position switch 142 in the proper sequence and in accordance with the selection of the parking area at which an automobile is either to be stored or removed.

One suggested manner in operating the computer is the assignment of a three-digit alphanumeric code to each parking area which uniquely identifies a particular parking area in terms of its three polar coordinates, expressed in terms of the vertical and angular positioning of the mast and the axial positioning of the boom. That code is also given to the owner of the automobile when it is parked and enables the owner to identify his automobile in terms of the parking area to which it is parked.

A typical operation for transferring an automobile from the street level to a designated parking area may thus be initiated by a three-digit code inserted into the control computer to perform in sequence the following operations:

l. The lift carriage is attached to a skid carrying the automobile at the floor level.

2. The skid is raised to a travel position.

3. The boom is retracted to an elevating or descending position.

4. The boom and lift carriage are rotated to align the skid with the vertical shaft.

5. The mast and boom are raised to the desired floor level.

6. The mast and boom are rotated to the desired parking area. v 7. The boom is radially extended to the location of the selected parking area.

8. The lift carriage is rotated to align the skid to the proper angular parking altitude.

9. The skid and the automobile are lowered onto the parking area.

. 10. The lift carriage is inlatched from the skid and raised.

To transfer an automobile or an empty skid from a parking position to the street level the sequence continues as follows:

l l. The boom is retracted to an elevating or descending position.

12. The boom and lift carriage are rotated to align the skid with the vertical shaft.

13. The mast and boom are raised to move vertically upward or downward to the desired floor level.

14. The mast and boom are rotated to the desired parking area.

15. The boom is radially extended to the location of the selected parking area.

16. The lift carriage is rotated to align with a skid in the parking position.

17. The lift is lowered onto the skid. Steps 1 to are then repeated, escept that in step 5, the motion is downward to the street level.

The parking facility of the invention thus permits fully or partially automatic parking which makes optimum use of the available area, up to 90 percent of the available floor area of the facility. The system also avoids the necessity of employing drivers to drive the cars from their parked positions to the reception area, thereby reducing the labor cost of facility operation, as

well as reducing the hazard of damage to the cars during their movement in the facility. In addition, the automobile may be parked and returned to the owner at street level in a relatively short time.

The equipment employed in the system lends itself to automation control techniques and is highly reliable in operation, ensuring substantially trouble-free operation.

While the invention has been herein specifically disclosed with respect to one embodiment, modifications and additions may be made thereto. In one such modification the structure employed would be circular rather than rectangular as hereinabove described, with the parking areas arranged in a radial rather than in a rectangular pattern. This arrangement would have the advantage of not requiring lift carriage and skid angular indexing to achieve proper angular altitude for the skid, but would reduce the amount of usable parking space.

Alternatively, the angular indexing of the skid may be performed in a separate plate at the ground level rather than at the parking level, although this would require the provision of a circular shaft to allow the skid to be raised in its predetermined angular attitude.

As herein described, the axial movement of the counterweight is determined solely by the opposite axial movements of the lift carriage, and is independent of the weight of the car supported by the lift carriage end of the boom. If desired, means may be provided at the lift carriage to sense the weight of the automobile and to further control the axial position of the counterweight to achieve optimum balance of the boom. Furthermore, to improve the reliability of the system, a second crane assembly capable of servicing all parking areas can be provided either in the same shaft, or cranes, eachhaving the capacity of serving an entire level of parking areas may be positioned at opposite sides of the structure.

Thus, while the invention has been hereinabove described with respect to only a single embodiment, it will be apparent .that modifications may be made therein, all without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

We claim:

1. A facility for parking or storing a vehicle or the like in a structure having a plurality of vertically spaced levels, each of said levels having a plurality of parking areas defined by first and second address coordinates, said facility comprising means located at said parking areas for carrying a vehicle, lifting means for selectively engaging and latching onto a selected one of said carrying means, and first, second and third means for selectively positioning said lifting means at a selected one of said levels and at said first and second addresscoordinates, respectively, at said selected one of said levels, said first posiitioning means comprises a mast, and means for selectively moving said mast to a preselected vertical position, and further comprising a boom operatively coupled at one end to said lifting means and to said mast, said parking facility comprising a central shaft that is centrally provided in said structure and extends vertically through said plurality of levels, said mast being positioned within said shaft, said parking areas at each of said levels surrounding said shaft, said second and third positioning means comprising means for respectively positioning said one end of said boom at said selected first and second address coordinates, whereby said lifting means is positioned over said selected one of said carrying means.

2. The parking facility of claim 1, in which said second positioning means includes means for establishing said boom at a preselected angular position, and said third positioning means comprises means for establishing said boom at a preselected radial position with respect to the longitudinal axis of said mast.

3. The parking facility of claim 2, further comprising a counterweight operatively coupled 'to the other end of said boom, and means for extending said counterweight in an opposite direction to said lifting means whenever the latter is positioned at said selected one of said parking areas, to thereby establish a balance to said lifting means and said vehicle carrying means latched thereto.

4. The parking facility of claim 3, in which said boom comprises a plurality of telescoping sections, the innermost one of which is operatively coupled to said lifting means, a motor, said third positioning means including means coupling said motor to at least one of said telescoping sections to convert the rotational movement of the former to predetermined axial movement of the latter.

5. The parking facility of claim 4, in which said boom further comprises means coupled to at least one of said telescoping sections for preventing rotational movement thereof.

6. The parking facility of claim 5, further comprising means operatively coupled to said one end of said boom and to said lifting means for rotating the latter to achieve a desired attitude of said lifting means with respect to the selected one of said parking areas.

7. The parking facility of claim 6, in which said vehicle carrying means comprises a skid having a base for supporting a vehicle, and an upper bracket, said lifting means including means for automatically, securely latching onto said bracket upon the engagement of the latter with the former.

8. The parking facility of claim 7, in which said latching means comprises a cam plate pivotally mounted on said lifting means, the latter further comprising spring means for normally urging said cam plate to a release position, and for urging said cam plate to a latching position upon the engagement of said cam plate and said bracket.

9. The parking facility of claim 8, in which said lifting means further comprises means for sensing the variation from a horizontal orientation of said lifting means in first and second mutually perpendicular planes, and means coupled to and responsive to said sensing means for reestablishing substantially horizontality of said lifting means in said first and second planes.

10. The parking facility of claim 9, in which said lifting means comprises an outer frame, an inner frame movable along one axis with respect to said outer frame, and a plate member operatively secured to said boom and movable within said inner frame along a second axis substantially perpendicular to said one axis, said sensing means comprising first and second switch means arranged along mutually perpendicular axes and respectively actuated when said lifting means is moved away from the horizontal in said first and second planes, first motor means operatively coupled to one of said switch means for moving, when said one of said switches is actuated, said inner frame along said one axis to restore horizontality of said lifting means in one of said planes, and second motor means operatively horizontality of said lifting means along the other of said planes.

1]. The parking facility of claim 10, in which said mast moving means comprises means for causing vertical movement of the mast, a plurality of switch means spaced vertically from one another by a distance corresponding to the vertical distance between said levels, means for actuating a selected one of said switch means corresponding to the selected one of said levels, and means for disabling said movement causing means and for limiting the further vertical movement of said mast when said actuated one of said switch means is located at a predetermined level with respect to said structure.

12. The parking facility of claim 11, in which said plurality of switch means are mounted on said mast at said spaced distances, said disabling means comprising a fixed contact plate effective when contacted by the actuated one of said switch means to disable said movement causing means.

13. The parking facility of claim 12, in which said mast includes a plurality of reduced diameter segments defining a plurality of annular recesses, said mast movement limiting means comprising a pin normally positioned away from the path of vertical movement of said mast and movable in response to said disabling means into one of said annular recesses.

14. The parking facility of claim 13, in which the vertical dimension of said pin is less than the vertical dimension of said annular recesses in said mast, to thereby permit limited vertical movements of said mast when said disabling means is actuated.

15. The parking facility of claim 14, further comprising means for rotating said mast, said second positioning means comprising means for establishing said mast at said preselected angular position, said last-named means comprising a second plurality of switch means reslpect to the selected one of said parking areas,

' 7. The parking facility of claim 16, in which said vehicle carrying means comprises a skid having a base for supporting a vehicle, and an upper bracket, said lifting means including means for automatically, securely latching into said bracket upon the engagement of the latter with the former.

18. The parking facility of claim 16, in which said lifting means further comprises means for sensing the variation from a horizontal orientation of said lifting means in first and second mutually perpendicular planes, and means coupled to and responsive to said sensing means for reestablishing substantially horizontality of said lifting means in said first and second planes.

19. The parking facility of claim 1, in which said lifting means further comprises means for sensing the variation from a horizontal orientation of said lifting ,means in first and second mutually perpendicular planes, and means coupled to and responsive to said sensing means for reestablishing substantially horizontality of said lifting means in said first and second planes.

20. The parking facility of claim 19, in which said lifting means comprises an outer frame, an inner frame movable along one axis with respect to said outer frame, and a plate member operatively secured to said I boom and movable within said inner frame along a second axis substantially perpendicular to said one axis, said sensing means comprising first and second switch means arranged along mutually perpendicular axes and respectively actuated when said lifting means is moved away from the horizontal in said first and second planes, first motor means operatively coupled to one of said switch means for moving, when said one of said switches is actuated, said inner frame along said one axis to restore horizontality of said lifting means in one of said planes, and second motor means operatively coupled to the other of said switch means for moving, when the other of said switches is actuated, said plate member along said second axis to restore horizontality of said lifting means along the other of said planes.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4054214 *May 10, 1976Oct 18, 1977Firma Mageba S.A.Plural vehicle parking device
US4322804 *Sep 19, 1979Mar 30, 1982Park Mobile, Inc.Storage conveyor operation system and surveillance system
US4594044 *Aug 8, 1983Jun 10, 1986Olaf SootRotating truck lift
US4936730 *May 26, 1989Jun 26, 1990Nissei Build Kogyo Kabushiki KaishaElevated garage
US4971506 *Aug 22, 1988Nov 20, 1990Shakbar Investments Ltd.Vehicle parking system
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Classifications
U.S. Classification414/239, 212/197, 414/231, 414/249, 414/232
International ClassificationE04H6/22
Cooperative ClassificationE04H6/225
European ClassificationE04H6/22A