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Mystery of abandoned cars in robotic park solved

A 15-YEAR-OLD mystery of eight cars stuck in a disused “robotic” car park has finally been solved.

The vehicles were frozen in time when Autosafe’s SkyPark in Edinburgh went bust and was closed in 2003, reports The Sun.

The $A8.8 million robotic structure, hailed as Britain’s “most technologically advanced car park”, opened in 2001 but shut just two years later as the company went into receivership.

Since the facility closed its doors, a number of theories have done the rounds among online car enthusiast groups as to why the eight perfectly good motors have been untouched for more than a decade.

It was rumoured at the time that administrators had arrived one day to lock the doors, leaving the cars trapped inside, while others suggested the original owners simply had a few drinks and forgot where they had parked their cars.

But prior to the site’s demolition to make way for a new office building, a former worker at the car park revealed a much more likely explanation.

Ronnie Meredith, a bus driver from Edinburgh, worked in the Autosafe Skypark in 2001.

He told the BBC: “When it first opened they did buy so many bangers (sic) for testing.

“We had a few scrap cars. I remember one being a Austin Maestro and we also had a Lada and a long wheel base Volvo.

“I find it funny how people think that these cars were abandoned. Even if the place had its doors shut by administrators they would have still legally been entitled to retrieve their own personal vehicle.

“If anyone looked at the windscreens of these cars they would no doubt have noticed that none of them had a tax disc which was still a legal requirement back then if the car was being used on the road.”

So it is no surprise that no one has come to claim the models, which include an Austin Maestro and Fiat Uno.

Prior to Meredith’s revelation, the cars looked likely to get a reprieve from the scrapheap after demolition bosses at GCM services revealed “every effort would be made to save them”.

But if they are found to be “bangers” used to test the car park their final destination could still be the junk yard.

A spokesman for Hermes Real Estate, the company leading a project to convert the building into offices, 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.”

At the time of its construction, the 600-space building was seen as the future of multistorey parking, taking its design from similar facilities in Beijing, Sydney and Tokyo.

Sensors would scan the cars to gauge their dimensions and ensure they were unoccupied before transporting them to the nearest space using lifts, turntables and “robot shuttles”.

When drivers returned, they inserted their parking ticket into a pay machine which automatically signalled for the car to be retrieved, and it was then presented and ready to drive away within three minutes.

Unfortunately, the technology was difficult and expensive to maintain, and its owners couldn’t turn a profit.

After the shutdown, the facility lay empty for more than a decade, during which time it became a popular haunt for illegal raves.

This story first appeared on The Sun.

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