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Latest in Japan, Environmentalists' Dream; Bicycle-Parking Robot

Rows and rows of bikes parked on the sidewalk can make any greenie's heart swell with pride. But what happens when there are too many bikes and not enough parking spots? A Japanese company has come up with a phenomenal solution: the robotic bike tree.

The bike tree is a mechanical system that stores bikes in a large shed. Commuters place a tag on their bike and the machine sucks it into the storage system. When the person returns, the machine retrieves the bike. All bicyclists have to do is pay the monthly fee. The company has installed several storage systems throughout Japan that hold anywhere from 600 to 6,000 bikes.

The bike tree has prevented bicycle theft, diminished clutter in the street, and protected bikes from weather. However, it can be costly to rent a space each month and it requires a bit of infrastructure because the facility is underground.


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