You've just caught the "red-eye" flight home. The baby in the next row screamed all of the way, your inflight meal was awful, and you're beyond tired. You drag yourself off the plane and schlep your heavy baggage over to the car park – only to realize that you’ve forgotten where you parked your car. At times like this, wouldn’t it be nice if you could just have your vehicle magically appear? Well, if you're at Düsseldorf Airport in Germany you can. That's because "Ray" the parking robot concierge installed there knows when your flight arrives, picks up your car in its mechanical arms and delivers it right to you.

When you first arrive at the car park and drive into the brightly-lit parking portal, Ray scans your car to determine its size, then gently picks it up at the tires like a forklift and – using its array of sensors and radar guidance – whisks it away to be stored until you return. While you are away, and there is a little "downtime" when there are no new customers, Ray will automatically rearrange the cars based on their scheduled departure time. That way, cars will be in order and as close to the delivery portal as possible to further optimize delivery time.

When you return, Ray will have your car ready and waiting thanks to its connection to the airport's flight database. If you need to pick up your luggage and need a few more minutes, or you decide to stop off for dinner with a friend, there is even an app you can use to tell Ray to wait until you’re ready to go.

Claimed to be particularly flexible and agile, it is asserted that Ray can spin around on the spot and is able to park cars sideways. And, needing only 3 m (10 ft) lanes instead of the usual 6 m (20 ft) required in ordinary car parks, the makers state that the use of the Ray system can increase available parking space by up to 60 percent.

Using an array of sensors and radar guidance, the robot is able to park, transport, and retrieve cars without assistance. The makers of Ray have even patented the robot’s ability to determine and adjust to the size of the car being transported, and claim that the robot’s sensor system and bespoke software is intelligent enough to ensure complete safety and scratch-free parking and retrieval of vehicles.

Unlike other automated parking systems like the Auto Parkit, its creators say Ray can be easily integrated into any existing parking station. Whilst fully operational, the system is also under evaluation at Düsseldorf Airport, and will be tested and customer feedback collected until the end of the year to determine whether Ray will be expanded to cover more of the parking complex.

The video below shows Ray in action at Düsseldorf airport.

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