Life could soon be a little easier for holidaymakers going to airports if a Gatwick Airport robot trial is successful.
Later this year a fleet of valet-parking robots are going to be tested that could take away the stress of finding a parking space at the UK airport.
The trial is slated to begin in August. Travelers will leave their car in a dedicated drop-off zone and summon a droid, via an app. The battery-powered robot will turn up, slip a forklift-style ramp under the car and then transfer it to a secure bay in the car park.
The autonomous droids which are nicknamed Stan scan each vehicle's size and shape and use military-grade GPS to steer them to the right location. And because there is no need for drivers to open their doors in the parking bays, vehicles can be packed more tightly together.
“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, but it’s doing more than just valet parking,” Stéphane Evanno, Stanley Robotics’ co-founder told industry website Airport Technology.
Each car is linked to a passenger's flight number to ensure that it is ready and waiting for them when they come back from their trip.
The trial is due to last for three months and is using technology developed by Stanley Robotics, a French company. It will take place in a section of the airport’s South Terminal’s long-stay car park. There, 170 parking spaces will be removed to make way for 270 and a new, robot-friendly surface will be laid.
Similar trials have taken place in Paris, Lyon and Düsseldorf.