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I was watching the trailer to Danny Choo’s TV show, Culture Japan, when something caught my eye. About a minute into the video, Danny loads his bike into a door, then a mechanical arms snatches it up and sorts it into a giant, vertical rack of bicycles.

I did a double take when I first saw that and had to re-watch it a couple of times. What is that thing?

Turns out, this mechanical monstrosity is named the Eco Cycle. It’s built by a Japanese company called Giken, whose biggest claim to fame is designing a pile driver that doesn’t cause the ground to vibrate or shake; think of it as the mechanical equivalent of those foam mattress commercials.

Eco Cycle is a giant underground bunker dug 55 feet (17 meters) deep into the ground, with a mechanical arm and sorting system.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOokxGbyufM']

Once you’ve paid for your parking and pushed your bike into the bay, Eco Cycle gives you a card so you can come back and get your bike later. Pretty slick!

Space

Space is obviously at a premium in urban areas; and if there’s one city in the world that’s notorious for being short on space, it’s Tokyo. With 32 million people living in the city and surrounding regions, Tokyo is the most populated metropolitan area in the world.

Bearing that in mind, going underground makes a lot of sense. People tend to want to live and work above ground, so subterranean real estate is a lot more accessible and cheap to obtain.

Safety

Japan is known for its low crime rate, but there’s always a risk of having your bicycle stolen. And storing your bike in a giant underground robot bike factory is a safer than chaining your bike in front of a konbini.

Plus, if you’ve ever used your bike to commute, then you know how much of a pain it is to park your bike outside, then come back later to have the seat drenched by rain. This Eco Cycle fixes that, too by keeping your bike nice and dry underground.

For a better explanation of how it works and an inside view of Eco Cycle, check out this video from the NHK:

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vK9C9VtCypE']

Tofugu’s based in Portland, OR, so we see some pretty strange, customized bicycles around here. Given what some of these bikes look like:

Maybe those with tall bikes and customized children’s bicycles should look elsewhere.

P.S. Wish you could have one of these in your town? Follow us on Twitter.
P.P.S. Prefer the old-school methods of bicycle storage? Check us out on Facebook and Google+.

[Header image source]

  • Yasawatse

    …………………………wow………….

  • Stephane

    “Maybe those will* tall bikes and customized children’s bicycles should look elsewhere.” *Maybe those whith…* Justletting you know, Hashi-san.

  • Yasawatse

    even i didnt notice that xD nice.

  • http://thejrt.com/ JRT

    Reminds me a bit of an old Disney cartoon from the 60s called Magic Highway USA where they show the supposed future of transportation. They present a similar idea for car storage, although it is above ground.

    Very cool to see someone innovating in the boring art of parking!

  • Anonymous

    “whith” = with… :)

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Whoops, thank you!

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Those old future concept cartoons are so cool. I think that there’s actually a few parking garages in the world that already use this kind of concept for car storage. If nothing else, I saw something similar in the latest Mission Impossible movie :p

  • http://thejrt.com/ JRT

    I think I saw one in NYC. Don’t think I dreamt that.

    (Yes, it isn’t out of the question for me to dream about transportation systems. Not ashamed of that :))

  • http://twitter.com/Ball_Tazer Michael Ball Tazer

    Hey, I wonder, how the heck do you get on and off those tall bikes????!?

  • http://thejrt.com/ JRT

    Very carefully. A friend of mine built one and I saw him bail off of it on many occasions. Only minor injuries…

  • Anonymous

    If it’s really safer then yes I would love to have that in my town. Bike thieves are a serious problem here at Montreal.

  • http://twitter.com/shollum Shollum

    Now we need to get those electric bicycles to recharge while you’re riding them. That way, we might not have to drive our cars as much.

    And the drunks could ride something cooler than a scooter… Wait, forget it; they shouldn’t be allowed to look cool.

  • Anonymous

    すごい!!

  • ☆彡

    I’m pretty sure they’ve got the “not looking cool” thing down pat. Unless tripping into trash cans comes back into style.

  • アントン

    Culture Japan is really good! Everyone should watch it! =)
    The second season isn’t as good as the first one, but it’s worth a shot.

  • アントン

    Btw, I think the first season is free for all to see on Crunchyroll!

  • Kiriain

    The link those foam mattress commercials gives me a 404 when I click on it.

  • http://twitter.com/WackoMcGoose Kimura Okagawa

    Okay, what happens when the inevitable drunkard decides to put their bike in while still riding it?