Parking cars is never easy. Park too close to the next car and you can’t get out of yours. Park too far away and you might feel guilty about the amount of space you’ve wasted. As well as probable getting a few glares from drivers who think they can park better than you.
If only there was a robot that could pick your car up and park it for you. Moreover, a robot that could squeeze your car in quite tightly, but without damaging it. Wishful thinking? Well, no, a reality as it happens. Later this year, Gatwick Airport will be trialling a fleet of valeting-parking robots which aim to squeeze one third more vehicles into the same size car park that we mere mortals would do if left to our own parking devices.
As part of the trial, travellers will leave their car in a dedicated drop-off zone and call up a ‘droid’ on a touch-screen. As the customers are taken to the terminal, the robot rolls up to their car, slides a forklift-style ramp under the chassis and uses military-grade GPS to take it to a secure bay— all without needing your keys. Each booking is then linked to the passenger’s flight number so their car is ready to collect from the same location on their return.
This seems pretty cool to us for a number of reasons. The most obvious being:
- You don’t have to play ‘hunt the car’ when you arrive back into Gatwick
- You don’t have to play ‘hunt the keys’
- You don’t have to rant because the car parked next to you is so close that you can’t put your luggage in your car.
Not surprisingly the company which has developed the robot – a French company with the surprisingly British name of Stanley Robotics – has reported that passenger feedback so far has been ‘overwhelmingly good’. And why wouldn’t it be? This is travel technology at its best.