Aug
10
2014

Meet Ray – The self driving robot valet

Ray - the self driving robot valet

Ray – the self driving robot valet

The future where we can wave all our parking woes goodbye seems to be not far off. Dusseldorf Airport in Germany already has made a headway by using a self driving robot valet in its parking structure. Late last month, the airport began using Ray – a self driving forklift to deliver cars to and from the appropriate parking space. The idea behind Ray is save time spent in finding an appropriate parking space for your vehicle. This robot can even navigate the car into tight spaces. Isn’t this an ingenious alternative to self parking cars?

How it works

After the driver checks in the car on a digital touchscreen, lasers at the “transfer station” located at the parking lot entrance measure the dimensions of the vehicle. This information is relayed to Ray (one of many in the parking  structure). Ray then adjusts it arms to fit the vehicle, drives to the station and slides its arms around the tires to life the vehicle off the ground. Guided by laser navigation and mapping systems, Ray knows exactly where to park the car. Serva Transport Systems, the company behind Ray, claims that it can improve the capacity of a parking structure by a whopping 60%!! All thanks to Ray’s capability to put park cars according their sizes.

Ray - the robot valet parking a car

Ray – the robot valet parking a car

Ray the robot - Automated car parking

Automated car parking system

That’s not all!

 

The system can integrate flight and baggage data

The system can integrate flight and baggage claim data

The system will also integrate flight and baggage claim data from the airport into its software, so that a Ray is can have your car waiting for you at the exit when you arrive at the structure. Ray even asks you if have to claim your baggage at the airport, so it can wait until the baggage has been claimed before pulling your car at the parking structure’s exit. Currently three Rays, six transfer stations and a room at the airport can park up to 249 vehicles. According to an airport spokesman, 130 vehicles have used the Ray service in its first week, which he said was a soft launch.

Limitations

While well suited for parking lots of malls, office complexes or airports, Ray cannot be used at concerts, music shows or sporting events. This is because of the sheer volume of vehicles entering and exiting the structure will be too much for Ray to handle. Currently, a simple system of two Rays, two transfer stations and the relevant software, costs almost $1.2 million. At the airport, convenience costs $40 a day or $5.50 an hour. A little expensive, but a small price to pay for using a system that completely negates human error – like the Lamborghini incident a few weeks ago.

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