Motorists can experience Hong Kong's first automated parking system today at a three-story facility in Tsuen Wan.
All they need is to park their cars on the ground floor of the car park at the junction of Hoi Shing Road and Hoi Kok Street, and the system will do the rest.
The car park comes with six modules in a puzzle stacking system with 78 slots. Vehicles are taken to higher levels on express lifts and moving platforms.
For other drivers there are 160 traditional spaces in a system built by operator Nevas Smart Car Park.
Keith Tang Kam-fai, the Transport Department's principal project coordinator of parking, said the system can provide double the number of parking spaces.
"We need about six parking spaces to install one module," he said, but it will accommodate about 13 cars. "That means this type of automated system doubles the parking capacity of an area."
That is the point of the system - to increase the spaces, he added.
"The main objective is to try to reduce or even eliminate illegal parking in the vicinity."
While the new system provides more car spaces, Tang said the system can only allow one to park or exit at a time.
Upon entering, a key card is given to a driver, who places it near a card-reading machine of the module to open the gate.
A corresponding safety gate will be opened with beeps, signaling others someone is to park.
The system will then lower a platform to ground level like an elevator for a driver to reverse the car to it. The driver then exits the vehicle after turning off the engine.
The driver must then place the card against the reading machine to signal the gate to close, and the platform rises to its original position.
The parking process takes a couple of minutes.
The system also comes with multiple safety designs, including lights and alarms to warn people from getting close to machinery.
A yellow line is also a meter from a parking module, and an operation is suspended immediately the system detects activities within the cordoned area.
The automated parking spots are available for a monthly rent of between HK$2,800 and HK$3,100, with upper levels cheaper. The rental for a traditional parking slot is HK$3,100.
The system can accommodate cars that weigh 2.5 tonnes or less with dimensions no more than 5.2 meters in length, 2.2m wide and 2m high.
Tang reckons 99 percent of private cars in Hong Kong can use the system.
Later, he said, "we will carry out surveys of drivers using this automated system to see whether they are satisfied with it and what sort of other measures need to be included."
This Tsuen Wan facility is one of seven automated parking project authorities are taking forward to increase the number of parking spaces and spatial efficiency.
The second one is expected to be set up at Pak Shek Kok, Tai Po, by the end of next year to provide about 240 slots including 50 automated ones.
Other locations include Tseung Kwan O, San Po Kong, Chai Wan, Sheung Wan and Sham Shui Po.