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French airport introduces robots that will park your car

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When you’re rushing to make a flight, the last thing you need is to spend valuable minutes finding a space in long-term parking, half a mile away from the airport terminal.  

For travelers leaving the French city of Lyon, this is no longer a problem. Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport has introduced an artificially intelligent robot that will collect your car and park it for you, and bring it back to you when you return. 

Stanley Robotics' car-parking robots have been tested at various locations over the last few years, but Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport is the first to implement them full-time
(Image via Stanley Robotics)

This robot valet has been designed by Stanley Robotics, who have been trialing it in various locations, including Düsseldorf and Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, over the last few years. It’s now been unleashed for the first time into full-time service at Lyon’s airport.

The robot, which requires no human assistance, will be available to collect your car from designated parking bays outside the terminal. Passengers merely have to input their flight and return details into the kiosk behind the bay to launch the machine. 

Passengers can leave their cars in the secure hangars located near the airport terminal, where the robots will collect them and carry them to the carpark further away
(Image via Stanley Robotics)

The car will be scanned to confirm the make and model, then one of the robots will arrive to pick it up by the wheels and transport it to a suitable space. When you return, the robot will use your flight data to retrieve your car and have it ready for you in a parking hangar outside the terminal. 

“We call it a valet parking robot because people just need to drop off their car at the entrance of the car park and then they can basically leave and catch a flight,” said co-founder and COO of Stanley Robotics,  Stéphane Evanno. 

“[The robot uses] the same technology as self-driving cars; is able to scan its environment at any time, and react to anything that would be in the way.”

Thanks to the robots sensors and AI, it's able to park 50% more vehicles in a space than human drivers
(Image via Stanley Robotics)

The developers claim that the system is much more efficient at using space than humans, and is capable of fitting 50% more cars into the same area. 

Part of this is due to the precision of the machines driving and its ability to scan the entire environment around it. But it also benefits from the AI’s knowledge of when each passenger is due to return. The robot is able to park cars three or four rows deep in the optimal order for retrieving them when they’re needed. 

Cars can be fitted in rows of 3 or 4, since the robot will know the precise order it needs to retrieve each one when the passengers return
(Image via Stanley Robotics)

For now the robots are being supervised by humans, “to secure the operations and to track any malfunction in real-time". Though the developers have added that this is a temporary measure that will be done remotely in the future.

Drivers add their flight and return details so the robot knows when it needs to bring your car back to you
(Image via Stanley Robotics)

Currently the robots are being used for just one section of Lyon-Saint Exupéry’s six car parks, covering 500 parking spaces. Four robots service the spaces, parking and retrieving up to 200 cars each day.

Stanley Robotics have said that they want to expand the operation to cover 6,000 spaces at the airport, but haven’t given a timeframe for this.

Having a robot valet collect your car is currently listed on the airport’s website as costing €55.80. For contrast, manually parking your car for a week in the cheapest, furthest-from-the-terminal carpark will cost you €54. And having a human valet park it for you will set you back at least €104.

The robot scans your car to register the make and model, and lifts appropriately. Any car can be carried to its parking destination.
(Image via Stanley Robotics)

So, if this first run proves to be successful, we could be seeing more of these robot valets unleashed in car parks across the world (further tests are already planned at London Gatwick later in the year). For now though, you’ll have to travel to Lyon if you want to try these robots out. 

It may almost be worth the trip just to see them in action. 

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French airport introduces robots that will park your car - Time to read 4 min
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