Automotive

Autonomous robot valet parking is coming to Gatwick Airport

These cute valet parking robots make travel more convenient while making more efficient use of parking space. They're coming to Gatwick airport this August.
These cute valet parking robots make travel more convenient while making more efficient use of parking space. They're coming to Gatwick airport this August.
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The Stan robot sans car - features a large pickup platform
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The Stan robot sans car - features a large pickup platform
Gripping cars by the wheels, Stan picks them up and transports them to high-density robot valet parking zones
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Gripping cars by the wheels, Stan picks them up and transports them to high-density robot valet parking zones
The Stan system can pack 30% more cars into the same space as a regular long-term car park
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The Stan system can pack 30% more cars into the same space as a regular long-term car park
Cars can be parked several layers deep, with very little space separating them as nobody needs to open the doors
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Cars can be parked several layers deep, with very little space separating them as nobody needs to open the doors
Stan's robot valet car parks will be human-free zones, barring a few employees
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Stan's robot valet car parks will be human-free zones, barring a few employees
Travellers drop their cars in a small garage, and pick them up from something similar.
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Travellers drop their cars in a small garage, and pick them up from something similar.
Scanning in with a QR code. Travellers can make Stan aware of the flight they're due to return on, so their car can be ready and waiting
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Scanning in with a QR code. Travellers can make Stan aware of the flight they're due to return on, so their car can be ready and waiting
The limiting factor for systems like this will be how many drop off/pick up garages can be built
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The limiting factor for systems like this will be how many drop off/pick up garages can be built
Stan pops in to pick up a car.
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Stan pops in to pick up a car.
These cute valet parking robots make travel more convenient while making more efficient use of parking space. They're coming to Gatwick airport this August.
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These cute valet parking robots make travel more convenient while making more efficient use of parking space. They're coming to Gatwick airport this August.

Airport parking sucks, but a little French robot parking valet wants to make it better for everyone. After successful trials in Paris and Lyon, the Stan autonomous parking system is on its way to Gatwick, London – and it looks like a terrific idea.

There are very few places in modern life where people regularly need to park a car and then move a whole bunch of luggage. Airports are one of them, and while some handle the space crunch of drop-off, pick-up, short-term and long-term parking better than others, we can all agree there's a lot of room for improvement.

So how does this sound: you drop your car into a little garage, scan yourself into the system, then head to the plane. A robot then picks up your car, ferries it off to a distant, secure, high-density car park, and brings it back for you to pick up from a similar little garage when you arrive back in town.

The Stan robot sans car - features a large pickup platform
The Stan robot sans car - features a large pickup platform

French company Stanley Robotics has built such a system, and successfully trialed it at two of France's biggest airports, including Charles de Gaulle in Paris. The Stan robots, shaped like waist-high toasters with a large pickup tray, zip underneath cars, grab them by the tires, lift them up and move them around. They can steer from both ends, so they're great in tight spaces.

Stan's parking facilities don't have to allow driving lanes every two rows of cars, because the robots can easily move cars about to get to other ones. The doors don't have to open, so they can be closer together sideways as well. No people are allowed in, so security is terrific and there's no need for special walkways. The resulting system makes excellent use of space, packing in some 30 percent more vehicles than a regular car park – and since drivers can pre-warn the system about when they'll be back, the robots can make sure a car's easily available when it needs to be.

Cars can be parked several layers deep, with very little space separating them as nobody needs to open the doors
Cars can be parked several layers deep, with very little space separating them as nobody needs to open the doors

It's convenient and secure for travelers (although limited by the number of garage spaces available), plus it uses land and space better than a traditional long-term car park design. In places where land is the crunch factor, systems like Stan can vastly change the equation.

The company has signed a deal with London's Gatwick Airport to begin a trial of the technology this August, as hundreds of thousands of Londoners take their summer holidays. The cars will be stored in the long-stay car park in the South Terminal, where 170 parking spaces will be replaced by 270 robo-valet spots.

Check out Stan in the video below.

Source: Stanley Robotics

Meet the new Stan, the first outdoor valet parking robot!

8 comments
SimonClarke
I think it is a brilliant idea.
myale
Looks great - Guess they are going to have to have some way of proving there was no damaged caused by the parking process, else I assume they could leave them open to bogus claims
Sid
Fab! Much better than human valets that race your car. But why do I need to leave it at a garage? Why not at the terminal building. The robot can take the car immediately. And where is the robot chair that takes me to the boarding gate instead of walking like a mile with hand luggage, coffee and coat.
gaheyn
If they can keep the price down it will definitely be a help... And No Door Dings...
guzmanchinky
"Mom, I forgot my passport in the back seat, I can just run back and.....oh" But yes, aside from the last minute needing something you forgot this is a great idea.
Nik
There's been a multi-story automatic car park in London for years. You just drive in, stop the car in an entrance bay, and leave. The auto system stacks your car, and retrieves it at will. This parks far more cars in a small footprint, and could be part of the air terminal, so, no long walks in the rain, or snow, humping luggage. However, it's probably more costly in outlay, and maintenance, so this system is a quick fix.
ljaques
Looks good on paper, but after you land an Airbus A380-800 at LAX and 853 passengers get off, all wanting their cars, the robots will be busy getting them while handling the vehicles from the 100 planes taking off and landing that hour. That 30% space saving is likely taken up by staging areas for each airline. Atlanta is 15% busier, at 100,000,000 passengers per year. I wonder if they'll end up moving the odd rows of cars and letting the others go get their vehicles on foot to handle the busiest times. I guess we'll see. Great concept, though.
Bricorn
Cars being, well, cars, with electricity, explosive fuel, and inflammable components, there are occasional fires in unattended cars. With this system a fire could spread across the full car park really quickly - and how could firefighters get in to put it out? Having said that, this is cool, and a clever solution to the space issues.
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