Locals preparing for travel out of London's Gatwick airport may have robots park their cars for them this summer.
Auto Express reported last Thursday that the airport will start a three-month trial that tasks robots with parking cars in a specific lot. The goal is to see whether the robots can maximize space in the already crowded airport parking lots. So far, trials in other countries have revealed the benefits.
It's a simple benefit at that: robots parking the cars mean there's no need for space to open a door, which allows the cars to be packed closer together, and that increases space in a parking lot. The robots have forklift-like capabilities to pick up a car and scoot it off to a parking space. French company Stanley Robotics developed the robots and named them "Stan."
Each traveler will enter the lot and drop their car off at a specified location and confirm their booking via a touchscreen. A system then scans the car and sizes up its dimensions before it calls the appropriately sized robot to whisk it away. Should the trial show similar benefits to other pilots, the airport believes the Stan robots could open up one-third more parking spaces.
Ironically, the trial will mean fewer normal spaces during the three-month trial, however. Gatwick's Zone B will have 2,180 traditional spaces, which is fewer than the usual 2,350 spaces to make room for the 270 robotic valets. Assuming all goes well, the robots will open up an extra 100 spots for travelers, thanks the ability to park cars closer together.
Should officials like what they see, the trial may expand to other zones at the airport. Joint capacity at Zones C and D could increase from 6,000 traditional spaces to 8,500 robotic valet spaces. The trial will begin this August.