Subterranean Japanese bike-parking robot

John sez, "A giant mechanism will park your bike for you in an underground facility in a train station in Tokyo. It packs more than 9,000 bikes tight as sardines, and when you swipe your card to pick it up, it will find your bike and spit it out in 23 seconds!" Link (Thanks, John!)


  1. Amazing. Bikes + Rail + Robots!

    The folks responsible for this should be put in charge of worldwide carbon emissions. This is just genius.

  2. that setup looks like it can only accommodate one retrieval at a time. imagine if the “garage” was full. 23 seconds adds up when there are 5 people in front of you.

    i think a rider could unlock from a pole in a parking garage and ride out in under 30 seconds.

  3. #3 – You may indeed be able to unlock and get out in less than 30 seconds… But what about the time you spend *finding* your bike, getting your keys out, unwedging it from between the other bikes, etc? Not to even mention the sheer horror of hunting down that one of those last open spots in the morning when you REALLY need to hurry. We`re talking about 9400 spots here.

    Waiting in line for a few minutes doesn`t seem so bad in comparison.

  4. #4 – True, it’s a frustration I often have at my local station.

    But, this can only cope with 3 returns a minute. If you get a train coming in every 10 minutes, each of which has 35 cyclists on, that doesn’t work.

    Put it another way – if the thing is at capacity, it’ll take 52 hours to unload. (And presumably a similar time to load).

  5. It’s a cool machine. I’d want to go down into the bowels and watch the thing in action when it was full of bikes. Maybe drop some acid too. I wonder how noisy it is. With fossil fuel prices rocketing up and oil reserves diminishing; wouldn’t it be cool if the States had to resort to bikes and the infrastructure to support them? Then we could all trip and watch the bike behemoth together.

  6. That’s really fascinating. I’m intrigued by this sort of machine-space that the system uses for storage.

    I wonder though, if the storage/retrieval contraption part of it were to break down, is there any way to get the bikes out?

  7. Pee Wee Herman sure could have used one of these, then he never would have had to look for the basement at the Alamo.

  8. Leave it to the Japanese to take the automated “vending machine”-style of car storage by VW, miniaturize it, and apply it to bicycles. AWESOME!

  9. And when the robot inevitably malfunctions and gives you the wrong bike or gives your bike away before you get there? Do I have to fill out forms and go to a complaint office half way across the city? No thanks. I have no problem locking and unlocking my bike. No need for robots, infostructure or beurocracy.

  10. A few more comments…

    1. The VW auto-storage system:

    2. Many here have speculated about machine failure and how to properly match bicycle to owner.

    Firstly, any machine, even a bicycle, is only as effective as it is maintained. Since this parking system is located with a train station, I’m sure the overall transport system people have a vested interest in keeping the bike parker in good working order.

    Second, it should be pretty simple to have the next storage slot associated with a unique ID, which could be via SmartCard-chip; Credit Card number; rail pass; or mobile phone number with password authentication. This last method/technology is supposed to have been deployed with vending machines for several years now.

  11. um… what? cultural ignorance may be a flaw, but I am immensely entertained whenever I see a Japanese show or news piece that demonstrates how very awesomely Japanese the Japanese really are. This one made me laugh. Plus it seems like a pretty awesome idea that would never ever work in the U.S.

  12. Its a cute idea, but the sequential access makes it impractical for train station usage where you could have hundreds of people (and dozens of users) getting off of one train within a very short period of time.

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