When you land back home after a long-haul flight, the last thing you want to do is traipse through a giant parking lot in search of your car. Likewise, when you arrive for an outgoing flight and you’re running late, you really don’t want to waste time looking for a space to leave your car.
Well, a robot called Stan is here to help.
Stan is an autonomous valet parking robot that’ll take your car off your hands the moment you arrive at the airport, and deliver it back to you when you land back home. The wheel-based assistant is being trialed this summer at Gatwick, one of the U.K.’s busiest airports.
Built by French firm Stanley Robotics, Stan uses sensors to analyze each vehicle’s shape and size before carefully lifting it a few inches off the ground and transporting it to a an available space.
A dedicated smartphone app lets you reserve a space ahead of time. As the video above shows, you’ll be directed to leave your car in a designated garage, after which Stan takes care of everything. You can also notify Stan of your return time so that your car will be ready to drive away the moment you show up.
To maximize efficiency and make sure that nobody is ever kept waiting, multiple Stans can be deployed at a single parking lot.
“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,” Stéphane Evanno, co-founder and COO of Stanley Robotics, told Airport Technology. “But it’s doing more than just valet parking — it’s a machine that autonomously detects a vehicle, slides under it, lifts it gently by the wheels, and moves it to a storage area.”
A major advantage for airport operators — or other facilities in need of more parking spaces — is that Stanley Robotics’ technology helps to free up more space in the parking lot because Stan can place cars closer together as their doors always stay shut. The Gatwick trial, for example, will see 170 parking spaces at one of its long-stay parking lots transformed into 270 robo-valet spots.
Paris-based Stanley Robotics has been developing Stan since the company launched in 2015. It’s already conducted successful trials of the system at several German and French airports, including Charles de Gaulle in Paris. Gatwick will be Stan’s first deployment on U.K. soil.