Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Robotics Businesses Transportation

The Mystery of the Cars Abandoned in a Robot Car Park (bbc.com) 147

The mystery of why a handful of cars were abandoned in a derelict car park in Edinburgh, Capital of Scotland, may have been solved. From a report on BBC: The $7m 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. A spokesperson 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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Mystery of the Cars Abandoned in a Robot Car Park

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If they left 8 test vehicles in the system, that was 8 spots they were not using for revenue. Speaks to the financial brains of the company running the car park being not so bright.

    • I'm guessing that had they needed any of those 8 spaces, they would quickly have removed the test cars.

      It seems likely that this business failed because not enough people parked their cars there at a profitable price point, not that they lacked sufficient capacity because 8 spaces where unavailable...

      • by Anonymous Coward

        If u have 8 test cars and own a carpark where else would u keepem?

      • by nojayuk ( 567177 )

        I drove past the demolition site today. The car park was located behind the EICC, a conference centre which is how I expect it was supposed to get much of its business but most conference attendees would arrive by train (one station about 500 metres from the convention centre, the other station a bit over a kilometre away) or by bus or taxi from the airport rather than driving into the city centre. It wasn't ideally situated for shopping or business commuting either.

        I didn't even know it was there to be tru

    • It failed because it was expensive to operate and maintain.

  • You use that word, but I don't think it means what you think it means.

    • You use that word, but I don't think it means what you think it means.

      If they really want to find the owners they would dredge the base of the River Forth. We all know that this is a case of the Scottish Mafia at work.

      • The best part about the Scottish mafia is that they don't need to worry about anyone ratting them out. If someone tries to squeal, nobody could understand WTF they're saying!
  • by Dahan ( 130247 ) <khym@azeotrope.org> on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @12:30PM (#55986953)
    Do they not have title records for cars in the UK? It seems like it'd be a trivial exercise to look up the license plate or the VIN to determine the owner of those cars.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @12:42PM (#55987045)

      Bah, where's your sense of mystery and intrigue? The news media have a popular mandate to entertain us now, not merely to inform us.

    • Cars in the UK don't have titles.

      But cars must be registered (with the DVLA).

      The difference is that there is no document that proves ownership of a car in the UK.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The difference is that there is no document that proves ownership of a car in the UK.

        So ... then ... if I steal a car in the UK it's mine because the owner can't prove otherwise?

        I'm sure I'm missing something, but that sounds really fucking broken.

        How the fuck do you establish ownership?

        • The difference is that there is no document that proves ownership of a car in the UK.

          So ... then ... if I steal a car in the UK it's mine because the owner can't prove otherwise?

          I'm sure I'm missing something, but that sounds really fucking broken.

          How the fuck do you establish ownership?

          If someone steals your bag of bagels, how do you establish ownership?

          • The difference is that there is no document that proves ownership of a car in the UK.

            So ... then ... if I steal a car in the UK it's mine because the owner can't prove otherwise?

            I'm sure I'm missing something, but that sounds really fucking broken.

            How the fuck do you establish ownership?

            If someone steals your bag of bagels, how do you establish ownership?

            I don't bother because a bag of bagels doesn't cost half a year's wages... unlike a car.

          • If a bag of bagels cost the same as a new car, I'm sure the bag would be registered with the owner in some way. VIN numbers exist for a reason. Why not use them?
            • VIN numbers exist for a reason.

              The same reason we have PIN numbers for our ATM machines. To drive pedants insane.

              • by mark-t ( 151149 )

                Uh... no.

                VIN's are (supposed to be) unique. Your PIN is (probably) not. Your PIN is supposed be kept private, while the VIN on your car is published. There is nothing distinctive about your PIN that differentiates you from anyone else, upon request, it merely offers verification of your identity. You must have, prior to this point, already made a claim to having a particular identity, so the PIN does not independently identify you. A VIN can be used entirely by itself to uniquely identify both a s

          • by Holi ( 250190 )
            Dumbest argument ever.
          • If someone steals your bag of bagels, how do you establish ownership?

            If someone makes an analogy that in no way applies to the situation at hand, how do you respond?

            • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

              If someone steals your bag of bagels, how do you establish ownership?

              If someone makes an analogy that in no way applies to the situation at hand, how do you respond?

              Ask for it in a car analogy. You must be new here.

          • The difference is that there is no document that proves ownership of a car in the UK.

            So ... then ... if I steal a car in the UK it's mine because the owner can't prove otherwise?

            I'm sure I'm missing something, but that sounds really fucking broken.

            How the fuck do you establish ownership?

            If someone steals your bag of bagels, how do you establish ownership?

            It seems unlikely there could such a huge range of possible disputes over ownership of bagels.

            Just one possible example: aging parent originally bought the car, but adult child has been taking over more and more of driving it, and maintaining it. Do they own it now? If so, how much of it?

            Sure, you can just adjudicate this stuff, but for big pieces of property, a system of title, liens, controlled transfers, and so forth seems to work well.

            • Just one possible example: aging parent originally bought the car, but adult child has been taking over more and more of driving it, and maintaining it. Do they own it now?

              No. The title of ownership is still in the parent's name. Until the parent dies or transfers the title to the child the child has no percentage of ownership of the vehicle.

        • Makes it easier to just drive it across the border and re-register it with no proof of ownership.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The vehicle registration document tracks the registered keeper of the car, who is the person legally responsible for the vehicle, so the owner is not really that relevant. The registered keeper is legally responsible for any incidents or offences involving the car and so on and so forth. The only time ownership becomes relevant is when selling the vehicle, in which case you generally need to produce proof of purchase of the car, although I have sold a car with just a vehicle registration document (it was a

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Yes, the ownership of all cars is recorded by the DVLA (Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency). This information determines, e.g., who the ticket gets sent to, when the car gets flashed by a speed camera.

          I presume there's some reason why this record doesn't make this exercise trivial. Maybe the records expire, if the vehicle isn't licensed or tax paid on it for a long time. (Although that hardly seems likely - badgering the owner for tax is also part of the database's purpose.) Or maybe the cars were offici

      • Cars in the UK don't have titles.

        Nonsense . . . my Morris Minor has an OBE.

        The guy who sold it to me told me it inherited the title from its father, the "Yo" man Beef Wellington Triumph TR4.

        If you look in the trunks, you'll find Jimmy Hoffa in one.

        • by Megane ( 129182 )

          If you look in the trunks, you'll find Jimmy Hoffa in one.

          Aha! Caught you! Everyone knows it's called the "boot" over there!

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        The difference is that there is no document that proves ownership of a car in the UK.

        While technically true, the car must have a registered keeper. Not necessarily the owner, e.g. it's common for kids to be the registered keeper of a car owned by their parents. That person is then responsible for either keeping the vehicle taxed or declaring it "SORN" which basically means "it's kept on private property and can't be used on the public roads".

        So these trapped cars must presumably have been declared as SORN, or the registered keeper would have had to keep paying road tax on them.

        At this point

    • A little more info here:
      https://www.askthe.police.uk/c... [police.uk]
      https://www.gov.uk/request-inf... [www.gov.uk]
      Note: "registered keeper", not owner.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      Do they not have title records for cars in the UK? It seems like it'd be a trivial exercise to look up the license plate or the VIN to determine the owner of those cars.

      Yes and no. It depends how old they are. The car park went into receivership in 2003 so the cars may be years older than that, maybe even predating the computerisation of the DVLA.

      That's besides the point. The registration record is just the last person who paid tax on the car. The simple and effective defence to that is to say "I sold the car" and with no evidence to the contrary the Judge will be forced to accept that at face value, the DVLA know this so they wouldn't even bother, doubly so if the las

  • by Doctor Morbius ( 1183601 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @12:32PM (#55986971)
    How is this story relevant to tech? Who cares about a bunch of cars left behind at an abandoned junk yard?
    • Um, it is a robot car park that uses AI to stack cars. How is it not relevant to tech???
      • Um, it is a robot car park that uses AI to stack cars. How is it not relevant to tech???

        Because the technology is not being discussed. I would be very interested in the tech, and even more interested in why it failed. But who owned 8 abandoned car? Who cares?

        I have seen automatic parking in Japan, and it seems to work well there. Maybe the difference is in the demand for parking. Japan has very little "street parking", since they believe streets are for driving, not parking. Before you can buy a car in Japan, you have to provide proof that you own or are leasing a parking space. Also, Ed

  • by Anonymous Coward

    VIN numbers?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      VIN numbers?

      The owners didn't to go to the ATM machine to get money to pay for the cars being parked. Perhaps because they forgot their PIN numbers.

      FWIW, those ATM machines communicate with NIC cards. And they likely have LCD displays.

    • The BBC already has a story that the mystery is solved, out today. I guess this is a typical Slashdot error of being too slow to show up in the feed.

      Solution was, these were test cars used when the facility was being built. Junkers.

  • FYI, it's the British for a parking lot or (like in this case) a parking garage. https://www.merriam-webster.co... [merriam-webster.com]

    • And here I thought it was like a dog park for autonomous vehicles, so they can get together and play.
    • I imagine a "car park" is like a "dog park" where cars can run and frolic without constant supervision from their owners.
    • Sometimes British English makes more sense. For example, you park in a car park, not a drive way, and you drive in motorway, not a park way.

      BTW did anyone consider the possibility that the left behind cars might just be abandoned PT Cruisers?

      • For the longest time, I didn't know what a parkway was, and I'm American. So the old joke of park in a driveway, drive in a parkway fell flat for me.

      • by pjt33 ( 739471 )

        Many British drivers park in a drive when they're at home.

    • I can't believe so many posts wondering about this phrase. Are my fellow Americans really that ignorant and stuck in a bubble? Read some British books, watch some British TV. This is slashdot, I'd hope we'd have a lot of Doctor Who fans at the very least. Can someone who is ignorant of British English really be a nerd?

      • I can't believe there are so many responses of British people offended that someone didn't know their terminology. ;)

  • People leave the country and abandon the car. This is common enough at airports that there's a process for declaring the car abandoned and auctioning it off. I'd imagine something similar happened here, or maybe someone died and their car was in the garage. Shouldn't be major news or hard to track down though, there is a number plate and a VIN on the car ... see who owns it, send them all required letters/notice, then send to auction if they don't respond. The car dealer can cut a new key with the VIN and c
    • If the cars were purchased a long time ago (before the perpetual licensing) and kept on private property, they may never have registered and licensed them. this is a sensible thing to do in the circumstances. The car tax isn't free. That would explain why they couldn't find the owners. The owner had forgotten they owned them and hadn't done the paperwork.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @12:53PM (#55987141)

    And, after a 10-year bender, he's asking himself "Now, where did I park my car?"

  • Everything you need to know is in Adriana's farewell episode.

  • While he was waiting for the end of the universe.
    • by Megane ( 129182 )
      I'm sure we'll see where they actually came from on the next series of Dr. Who. Maybe they could even write an entire story around the concept.
  • by in10se ( 472253 ) on Tuesday January 23, 2018 @02:26PM (#55987967) Homepage

    There are also abandoned cars in my neighborhood. Slashdot, please help me solve this non-tech mystery on a supposedly tech-related site.

  • by PPH ( 736903 )

    Where's my car?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Mystery appears to have been solved by a commenter on the story at the Edinburgh Evening News - seemingly the vehicles in question were purchased by the company which built the car park to conduct tests of the new system.
    https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/our-region/edinburgh/has-the-mystery-of-the-cars-in-edinburgh-s-robot-car-park-been-solved-1-4670137

If bankers can count, how come they have eight windows and only four tellers?

Working...