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.
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.
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
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