Starting later this year, people taking off from and landing on London’s Gatwick airport will be serviced by a brand new robotic parking valet. Named Stan, it will not only park the cars when the owners depart, but also bring them back when they return.What is it?
Stan is a parking valet robot developed by a French company that goes by the name of Stanley Robotics. It is fully electric and fully autonomous and, according to its makers, virtually indestructible. It’s also “the first valet robot in the world capable of moving vehicles outdoors.”
It’s construction is somewhat similar to that of a forklift, because that is what Stan essentially is: it lifts cars from one spot and transports them to another, using a variety of sensors, an embedded software, actuators and no operator.
Stan is supposed to be the perfect solution for the needs of big parking lots. It doesn’t require the sites to be significantly altered or fitted with sensors and other tech, like it will be the case with actual self-driving cars that need their own virtual environment to operate in.
Because the cars it transports into the parking lot are unoccupied by humans, Stan can place the vehicles very close together, providing according to its makers an increase in available space of about 50 percent. How does it work?
The process of having Stan come over and park the car starts with the owner scanning his boarding pass and leaving the car in the garage. From that boarding pass, Stan calculates where it needs to park the vehicle to have it ready when the owner returns.
As soon as Stan gets to the car, it scans it to make sure it can be lifted and safely moved to the assigned location. According to Stanley Robotics, the valet can carry pretty much any car out there, provided they don’t exceed a maximum length of 6 meters and doesn’t weigh more than three tons.
Once the car has been sized up, Stan slides itself underneath the car and lifts it. Using its onboard automated system, the robot begins navigating its way to the assigned location, where it drops off the car until the owner returns. Outlook
Stan is already deployed in the parking lot of the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and the two airports in Lyon starting 2016. As said, Gatwick will follow, with 270 parking spaces to be dedicated to the project there.
In all locations, the robot is currently in testing stages, but the lack of incident reports seems to show the general idea works.
If it truly does, given the robot’s capability to adapt to any parking lot regardless of size or location, then it’s likely will see more of them in other types of parking lots in the not so distant future.