If you’ve ever had to park your car at an airport, you know it can be a major hassle. Stanley Robotics has a solution: robotic valets. Now, travelers at the Lyon-Saint-Exupéry Airport in France can park stress-free with the help of the autonomous, 100% electric valet robots. And starting later this year, passengers at the Gatwick Airport in England can try it out as well.
Here’s how it works. You drop off your car in a garage-like “box,” keeping your keys on you, and validate your reservation with your flight information. Then, the box is secured until the robotic valet arrives and slides its forklift-like arms underneath your car, lifting it by the tires and carrying the car to a secure parking lot which is only accessible to the robots. The system is connected to your flight information, so upon your arrival the robot will have already returned your car to the parking station and notified you via an SMS that your vehicle awaits you.
According to the company, the robotic valets can fit 50% more vehicles into a space than humans, making them far more efficient and precise. Of course, humans don’t set an incredibly high bar when it comes to parking, but the vehicles can offer more than efficiency, as they provide accessibility and convenience. The parking system is designed with the needs of people with various disabilities in mind. These considerations were implemented after doing some careful research on the range of impairments that many customers may have in terms of seeing, mobility and dexterity, remembering and concentrating. The autonomous robots offer the ease of simply driving to the airport, getting out of your car, and catching your flight – all while someone else, or rather something else, figures out where to put your car.
The trial in France began earlier this year, starting with 500 parking spaces and hoping to expand to 6,000. The company recently announced its contract with Gatwick Airport and a trial which will run from the second half of 2019 to early 2020. Gatwick is the second-largest airport in the UK, after Heathrow Airport in London, and it hopes that the autonomous service will streamline the airport’s long-term parking services and save space.
“The valet parking robots could revolutionise parking at Gatwick and may also become common-place at airports and other businesses across the world,” said Guy Stephenson, Gatwick Airport’s Chief Commercial Officer. “The new service will be a convenient, personalised experience that will save passengers time, while also reducing vehicle emissions.”
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