The mystery of the cars abandoned in a robot car park


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The cars were discovered when the demolition began on the Autosafe car park in Edinburgh

The mystery of why a handful of cars were abandoned in a derelict car park in Edinburgh may have been solved.

The £5m Autosafe SkyPark used robots to stack cars and was dubbed the “car park of the future” – but went into receivership in 2003.

After lying empty for more than a decade, the building in Morrison Street is now being demolished.

And the work has uncovered eight cars which were left behind when the doors were closed.

Images of the abandoned vehicles has sparked a number of theories about why they were never removed.

But a former employee has said they could be old vehicles which were bought by the car park’s former operators to test out the robot equipment.

Turntables and lifts

The state-of-the-art building was described as Britain’s “most technologically advanced car park” when it opened its electronically-controlled doors in 2001.

It was nominated for awards for its innovative ideas in utilising its space for parking.

Drivers would pull into bays and leave their cars to “robots”, which would then scan the cars and take them to the nearest space via turntables and lifts.

The building housed 600 spaces and was based on similar technology used in China, Japan and Australia.

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The car park housed 600 spaces and ‘robots’ were used to stack the vehicles

But it is believed the technology was difficult and expensive to maintain, and in 2003 the company went into receivership.

Urban legend suggests the doors were simply closed one day, leaving several cars trapped inside.

Having been empty for more than a decade, work started last year to turn the site into a 122,000 sq ft office development by Glasgow-based BAM properties, on behalf of Hermes Investment Management.

As the demolition unfolded, the car mystery was sparked by a photo posted on sharing site Reddit by a worker in an office building facing the site.

User ieya404 said: “I work in an adjacent building – and had no real idea of what it was before.

“As the outer shell of the building got cut off we could see the metal skeleton of the insides, and only as they’ve cut most away were the cars revealed.”

Early days

Theories about why the cars were left behind have ranged from people not being able to collect their cars from the closed-down facility, to people having a few drinks and leaving their cars there.

However, the most likely explanation came from a man who claims to have worked there in the car park’s early days.

He posted on Facebook: “I used to work here when it first opened and they did buy so many bangers for testing it before it opened.

“I know one car was a Maestro and they also had a Volvo.

“The reason it never worked was something to do with the bolts that they used causing the mechanism to move.

“Many a time we had to got inside and manually retrieve the cars using a joystick.”

A spokesperson for Hermes said: “We can confirm that there are eight cars present at the car park on the Capital Square site, which have been there since the car park closed in 2003.

“The owners of the cars are unknown and they are now the property of the demolition company who will remove the cars once work begins on the levels on which they are located.”

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