Airport parking is often a stressful experience; under the pressure of time to meet your flight, hunting around a large car park for an elusive space is an additional burden to the experience of travelling. But there are a number of companies working to alleviate this issue with the use of highly advanced robotics.
Gatwick airport is to become the UK’s first airport to implement an autonomous parking trial. French enterprise Stanley Robotics are the developers of ‘Stan’, the world’s first outdoor robotic parking service. The service began indoor trials in Paris’ Charles De Gaulle airport in 2017, which paved the way for larger developments. At the beginning of 2018, Lyon’s Saint-Exupéry airport was the first to see the ‘Stan’ robots in full public operations in an outdoor car park.
Gatwick airport plans to start preparing the custom car park in April 2019, and is expected to complete the works by August. 170 of the 2,350 spaces in one of the airport’s long stay car parks will be cut to make way for this development, but due to the efficiency of these parking attendants there will be 270 valet spots created. This effective addition of 100 spaces demonstrates how many more spaces could be created if this method was used on a greater scale.
Gatwick airport is the second biggest airport in the UK, and the second busiest single-runway airport in the world. With its passenger numbers increasing, so does the demand for parking spaces. Therefore, the use of robotics to increase the efficiency of the space used will limit the need to expand the physical area used for parking.
‘RAY’ is a similar parking solution which has been trailed by Audi and Volkswagen in manufacturing plants, as well as in Dusseldorf airport. Both ‘RAY’ and ‘Stan’ collect client’s cars from secure garages and carry them to the available parking location.
The customer drives their car into a well-lit, spacious garage where they will leave the car and use a nearby screen to book in their vehicle. They then proceed to the terminal, taking the key with them. From here, the robotic attendant will lift the car and carry it to the designated location.
The AI used for this technology pairs the car’s registration to your flight details, so your car will be waiting in a collection garage as soon as you arrive, even if your flight is late. Using this technology, the attendants can stack the cars to save room, with those with a longer time remaining in the middle of the stack.
This isn’t the first time Gatwick airport have used innovative technologies to aid valet parking. They currently work alongside Park IT who develop software to make attended parking more efficient. Used in airports across the UK, Park IT uses self-service kiosks for customers to securely deposit keys, sends job alerts to staff relating to the status of individual vehicles, and tracks keys and cars to reduce the risk of issues.
Another possible solution to combat the space taken by car parks has been tackled by Skyline Parking, who use lifts to transport cars into vertically distributed parking spaces.
It may not be long before automated parking technologies are used in airports and shopping centres across the country, eliminating the stress of trying to find a space yourself.