Title:
High throughput parking system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A vehicle parking method uses a multilevel building structure with plural floors, including an entry-exit floor with reception and discharge parking spaces, and storage floors with storage parking spaces for parking plural inbound motor vehicles; and an elevator having elevator spaces, the elevator adapted for moving between the floors of the building structure, and a plurality of inbound and outbound vehicle movers, each of the movers adapted for supporting and moving one of the vehicles between the floors of the building structure using the elevator. The method includes parking inbound vehicles in reception parking spaces on the entry-exit floor of the building structure; loading the inbound vehicles onto inbound movers; moving the elevator to the entry-exit floor of the building structure; loading the loaded inbound movers into said elevator spaces on the elevator; moving the elevator incrementally to the storage floors of the building structure for matching the inbound vehicles with vacant storage spaces on the storage floors; discharging inbound movers to the storage floors and unloading the inbound vehicles into the vacant storage spaces; loading all vacated elevator spaces with outbound movers carrying outbound vehicles from the storage floors; moving the elevator, to complete one inbound-outbound cycle, finally, to the entry-exit floor and discharging the outbound movers; unloading the outbound vehicles to discharge parking spaces on the entry-exit floor to await possession by patrons; and then repeating this cycle as required.



Inventors:
Bonin, Pete J. (Huntington Beach, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/227365
Publication Date:
02/26/2004
Filing Date:
08/22/2002
Assignee:
BONIN PETE J.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H6/18; (IPC1-7): E04H6/00
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Primary Examiner:
TRAN, KHOI H
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATENT LAW & VENTURE GROUP, PLLC (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A vehicle parking facility apparatus comprising: a multilevel building structure with plural floors for parking plural motor vehicles, including at least one entry-exit floor having vehicle reception and dispatch parking spaces, for receiving vehicles moving into and out of the building structure; a plurality of vehicle movers, each of the vehicle movers adapted for supporting and moving one of the vehicles along the floors of the building structure to and from parking spaces designated therefor; at least one elevator of a size for receiving plural of the vehicle movers in abreast formation along each of four sides thereof; the elevator thereby adapted for moving the vehicles between the entry-exit floor to parking spaces on the floors of the building structure; and an automated guidance system for directing the vehicle movers automatically, with or without personnel attention, between the parking spaces and the elevator.

2. A vehicle parking method comprising the steps of: a) providing a multilevel building structure with plural floors, including an entry-exit floor with reception and discharge parking spaces, and storage floors with storage parking spaces for parking plural inbound motor vehicles; and an elevator having elevator spaces, the elevator adapted for moving between the floors of the building structure, and a plurality of inbound and outbound vehicle movers, each of the movers adapted for supporting and moving one of the vehicles between the floors of the building structure using the elevator; b) parking inbound vehicles in reception parking spaces on the entry-exit floor of the building structure; c) loading the inbound vehicles onto inbound movers; d) moving the elevator to the entry-exit floor of the building structure; e) loading the loaded inbound movers into said elevator spaces on the elevator; f) moving the elevator incrementally to the storage floors of the building structure for matching the inbound vehicles with vacant storage spaces on the storage floors; g) discharging inbound movers to the storage floors and unloading the inbound vehicles into the vacant storage spaces; h) loading all vacated elevator spaces with outbound movers carrying outbound vehicles from the storage floors; i) moving the elevator, to complete one inbound-outbound cycle, finally, to the entry-exit floor and discharging the outbound movers; j) unloading the outbound vehicles to discharge parking spaces on the entry-exit floor to await possession by patrons; and k) repeating steps (b) through (j) cyclically.

3. The method of claim 2 wherein plural inbound movers are loaded onto opposing sides of the elevator simultaneously with unloading plural outbound movers from a further opposing sides of the elevator.

4. The method of claim 2 further comprising the step of sensing when one of the parking spaces is vacated and lighting a lamp to indicate said status, the lamp placed so as to be visible from the elevator.

5. The method of claim 4 further comprising the step of signaling a control board on the entry-exit floor, the control board indicating locations of vacant parking spaces in the building structure.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims priority and is entitled to the filing date of U.S. Provisional application Ser. No. 60/308,059 filed Jul. 26, 2001, and entitled “Bonin Vehicle Parking System” The content of the aforementioned application is incorporated by reference herein.

INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE

[0002] Applicant(s) hereby incorporate herein by reference, any and all U.S. patents, U.S. patent applications, and other documents and printed matter cited or referred to in this application.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] 1. Field of the Invention

[0004] This invention relates generally to automobile parking structures and more particularly to a parking structure and system capable of economically accommodating a high throughput rate of vehicles.

[0005] 2. Description of Related Art

[0006] Automated, multi-level storage structures have been designed to more efficiently manage the storing and rapid retrieval of automobiles. Many such prior art devices teach a system whereby movable pallets or platforms accept and move such vehicles by various means such as elevator lifts, and the like, to a final storage destination. These storage systems may have many levels.

[0007] Examples of such prior art devices are found in:

[0008] U.S. Pat. No. 3,680,718 describes a multi-storied garage that is characterized in that a single lift cage is capable of serving a plurality of motor vehicle storage chambers located at a plurality of floor levels, and that appropriate means are provided for holding in position the motor vehicles to be stored in the storage chambers, whereby the motor vehicles can with the utmost safety be let into, kept in, and got out of, the garage.

[0009] Go, U.S. Pat. No. 4,950,117 describes a lift-space and multi-storied housing spaces providing on at least one side out of the left side, right side, front side, and rear side of the lift space. A three dimensional housing apparatus comprises a liftable fork unit composed of a pair of liftable forks movable up and down in the lift space, and a plurality of traversable housing forks each reciprocatingly movable between a corresponding housing space and the lift space. An object to be housed can speedily and safely be warehoused in and delivered from a respective housing space by the liftable fork unit and a respective traversable housing fork.

[0010] Shahar, et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,024,571 describes an automatic multi-level storage structure including a building structure having at least one entrance and exit station, a main floor directly accessible from the entrance station, and a plurality of storage levels, a plurality of object pallets provided with wheels and adapted to carry objects to be stored. The pallets are movable along, and guide by, a first track fixedly attached to the floor of the levels. There is also provided at least one storage elevator adapted to accommodate the object pallets and to move between the main floor and the plurality of storage levels, and transfer platforms permanently located in the elevator and provided with a second track fixedly attached to the platform. The second track is adapted to accept and guide the wheels of the object pallet, and is furnished with a driver for moving the object pallet onto and off of the transfer platform.

[0011] Trevisani, U.S. Pat. No. 5,173,027 describes an underground circular and noncircular, parking place where vehicle parking areas are obtained and arranged radius-like on several underground stories. Vehicles are fed to the areas by a lift truck which moves vertically from ground story to the lower story and simultaneously rotates around a vertical axis together with the whole bearing column, to reach all parking areas; on ground story the lift truck is a continuity element with an incoming and an outgoing area; the lift truck consists of a platform on which an upper plane moves in two opposite directions, the plane has two pairs of chains abreast equipped with staves for motorcar supporting and hooking lists to avoid sliding; the ends of the plane are equipped with a mechanism for engaging with a corresponding mechanism in ground areas and underground spaces; the areas and spaces are also equipped with pairs of chains abreast and staves for motorcar support; a first motor for moving the plane in the two directions with respect to the platform are assembled and a second motor for rotating the chains of the plane and the chains of the parking area or underground space to which the plane is temporarily connected.

[0012] A drawback with the prior art systems that use movable pallets, such as disclosed in Shahar et al., is that the transport time required to either store or retrieve an object is relatively long, due mostly to the fact that other pallets, either empty or full, must be moved out of the way to make room for the object pallet. Such systems further require a convenient staging area near the loading area for holding empty pallets. As a result, as a pallet is loaded and sent to its destination, the elevator must deliver that pallet to the proper level, perhaps waiting for other pallets on that level to be shifted so as to make room for the new pallet, then return to the staging area to pick-up an empty pallet, and finally return to the loading area to pick-up the next object. Such a system clearly has significant delays, and therefore requires multiple elevators in order to avoid such delays.

[0013] Clearly, then, there is a need for a multi-level parking facility that is more efficient both in its initial cost of construction and in its cost of operation. Such a needed facility would be easily controlled by a computer system, and would not require full-time parking attendants for operation. The present invention fulfills these needs and provides further related advantages by loading and unloading the elevator simultaneously, by loading and unloading a plurality of vehicles simultaneously, and by automating the use of pallets so that the vehicle is delivered to its storage space while withdrawing the vehicle mover, so that only a limited number of vehicle movers are required.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0014] The present invention teaches certain benefits in construction and use which give rise to the objectives described below.

[0015] The present vehicle parking method uses a multilevel building structure with plural floors, including an entry-exit floor with reception and discharge parking spaces, and storage floors with storage parking spaces for parking plural inbound motor vehicles; and an elevator having elevator spaces, the elevator adapted for moving between the floors of the building structure, and a plurality of inbound and outbound vehicle movers, each of the movers adapted for supporting and moving one of the vehicles between the floors of the building structure using the elevator. The method includes parking inbound vehicles in reception parking spaces on the entry-exit floor of the building structure; loading the inbound vehicles onto inbound movers; moving the elevator to the entry-exit floor of the building structure; loading the loaded inbound movers into said elevator spaces on the elevator; moving the elevator incrementally to the storage floors of the building structure for matching the inbound vehicles with vacant storage spaces on the storage floors; discharging inbound movers to the storage floors and unloading the inbound vehicles into the vacant storage spaces; loading all vacated elevator spaces with outbound movers carrying outbound vehicles from the storage floors; moving the elevator, to complete one inbound-outbound cycle, finally, to the entry-exit floor and discharging the outbound movers; unloading the outbound vehicles to discharge parking spaces on the entry-exit floor to await possession by patrons; and then repeating this cycle as required.

[0016] A primary objective of the present invention is to provide an apparatus and method of use of such apparatus that provides advantages not taught by the prior art.

[0017] Another objective is to provide such an invention capable of economically, and efficiently parking a high volume of vehicles when high throughput is required.

[0018] A further objective is to provide such an invention capable of fully automated operation.

[0019] A still further objective is to provide such an invention capable of parking and retrieving vehicles for patrons with minimum waiting time.

[0020] Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following more detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0021] The accompanying drawings illustrate the present invention. In such drawings:

[0022] FIG. 1 is a plan view of the preferred embodiment of the invention illustrating a entry-exit floor of a parking structure of the invention;

[0023] FIG. 2 is a plan view thereof illustrating a typical storage floor of the parking structure;

[0024] FIG. 3 is a side elevational view thereof showing a vehicle mover of the type that may be used for moving vehicles according to the invention; and

[0025] FIG. 4 is an end elevational view thereof showing the vehicle mover in both the jacked-up mode on the left and the lowered mode on the right.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0026] The above described drawing figures illustrate the invention in at least one of its preferred embodiments, which is further defined in detail in the following description.

[0027] The present invention is a vehicle parking facility apparatus housed in a multilevel building structure 10 with plural floors for parking plural motor vehicles 30, including at least one entry-exit floor 20 (FIG. 1) having vehicle reception and dispatch parking spaces 22, for receiving vehicles moving into and out of the building structure 10. A plurality of vehicle movers 40, are adapted for supporting and moving one of the vehicles 30 along the floors of the building structure to and from parking spaces 22. At least one elevator 50 is large enough to receive plural of the vehicle movers 40 in abreast formation along each of four sides 50′ thereof. The elevator thereby is adapted for moving the vehicles 30 between the entry-exit floor 20 to parking spaces 22 on the parking floors 60 of the building structure, as shown in FIG. 2. An automated guidance system for directing the vehicle movers automatically, with or without personnel attention, may be used between the parking spaces 22 and the elevator 50. Such a system may be of any well known type such as the guidance of the vehicle movers 40 along buried electrical cables 5 and wherein the movers 40 are self propelled as by electrical motors 42. Such guidance systems and control therefore are within the routine know-how of those of skill in the art. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, it is shown that the vehicle mover 40 provides rollers 44 that are hydraulically moved into place to lift the vehicle 30 from the ground, shown at the right in FIG. 4, to the level for moving the vehicle 30 shown at the left in FIG. 4 and in FIG. 3. Upon reaching the parking space 22, the vehicle mover 40 moves into the parking space 22 and then lowers the vehicle 30 to the ground, i.e., the lifting rollers 46, which are used to lift and lower the vehicle 30, move away from the vehicle's wheels to position 46′ for instance. This allows the mover 40 to extract itself from under the vehicle 30 and to then be available for the next vehicle while the parked vehicle remains in place in its parking space 22 without the mover 40. This ability provides a significant advantage over the prior art devices in requiring only a very limited number of movers for handling a large number of vehicles.

[0028] The method of the present invention includes providing the above described multilevel building structure with plural floors, and vehicle movers; parking inbound vehicles in reception parking spaces 22 on the entry-exit floor 20 of the building structure 10; loading the inbound vehicles 30 onto inbound movers 40; moving the elevator 50 to the entry-exit floor 20; loading the loaded inbound movers 40 into elevator spaces 52 on the elevator 50; moving the elevator incrementally to the storage floors 60 for matching the inbound vehicles 30 with vacant storage spaces 22 on the storage floors 60; discharging the inbound movers 40 to the storage floors 60 and unloading the inbound vehicles 30 into the vacant storage spaces 22; loading all vacated elevator spaces 52 with outbound movers 40 carrying outbound vehicles 30 from the storage floors 60; moving the elevator 50, to complete one inbound-outbound cycle, finally, to the entry-exit floor 20 and discharging the outbound movers 40; unloading the outbound vehicles 30 to discharge parking spaces 22 on the entry-exit floor 20 to await possession by patrons; and repeating this procedure cyclically as required.

[0029] The method includes loading plural inbound movers 40 onto opposing sides 50′ of the elevator 50 simultaneously while unloading plural outbound movers 40 from a further opposing sides, the alternate two sides 50″ of the elevator as shown in FIG. 2.

[0030] The method further comprises sensing when one of the parking spaces 22 is vacated, using any type of sensor 28, such as magnetic, inductive, etc. as is well known in the art, and lighting a lamp 25 adjacent to the space 22, to indicate status. The lamp 25 is preferably placed so as to be visible from the elevator.

[0031] The method further comprises the step of signaling a control board 29 on the entry-exit floor 20, so that the control board 29 indicates locations of vacant parking spaces 22 in the building structure. Such a control and signaling system is well known in the art.

[0032] While the invention has been described with reference to at least one preferred embodiment, it is to be clearly understood by those skilled in the art that the invention is not limited thereto. Rather, the scope of the invention is to be interpreted only in conjunction with the appended claims.