ABU DHABI // It will be valet parking with a difference. The “valet” is a mechanical robot, it promises to park or retrieve your car inside 50 seconds – and best of all, parking will be free.
The 14-storey, 50-metre-high robotic car park at the Qaryat al Beri resort will have space for 325 vehicles, from small cars to SUVs, and will be the first of its kind in Abu Dhabi. Building begins next month and it is expected to open next May.
It works like this: you drive into the car park and stop, facing inwards, on a rotating steel pallet operated by small robots. Cameras and sensors tell you when the vehicle is correctly placed.
You then leave the car and go to a nearby machine, which issues a token that identifies the car. The robots on the steel pallet then slide and rotate your car into an available parking spot.
When you return, drop the token into the machine to trigger the retrieval process. The robots slide your car through the exit point, facing outwards and ready to go.
Lost your token? No problem. Sophisticated pan/tilt/zoom cameras required by Abu Dhabi police can identify your car by plate number. The robotic car park is the final phase of the Dh1.4 billion Qaryat al Beri development, which includes the Souk, the Shangri-La Hotel, Traders Hotel and private apartments and villas.
At the moment visitors have to to park at Traders Hotel or the Shangri-La, use the Souq valet service or park in a vacant area of sand across the street.
Ahmad Khalil, 25, a frequent visitor to Qaryat al Beri who often struggles to park in the area, said he thought the project would help to resolve the problem.
“There is always a pile-up of cars, particularly at the weekend and in front of the Souk’s valet parking,” he said.
“And when retrieving the car, sometimes there’s a good 20-minute wait. Parking on the sand is also a huge inconvenience. I think this will play a big role in relieving the parking delay.”
An official from the Qaryat al Beri Resort Development Company, a joint venture between Al Jaber Group and the Tourism Development and Investment Company, said visitors could simply leave their vehicles at the valet drop-off point at Traders Hotel and valet drivers would take care of the parking and retrieval process.
In the event of a power cut or system crash, an uninterrupted power supply and back-up system would kick in, the official said. A 24-hour control room also gives workers access to a manual override system in the event of an emergency.
A similar multistorey car park near Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai accommodates 765 vehicles. Such car parks are in used around the world to make the best use of restricted space.
The Qaryat al Beri official said the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport was in negotiation for similar projects across the emirate.