2014 Paris Motor Show highlights

Meet Ray: Düsseldorf Airport's autonomous robot car parking concierge

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July 1, 2014

Ray is able to park, transport, and retrieve cars autonomously

Ray is able to park, transport, and retrieve cars autonomously

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You've just caught the "red-eye" flight home. The baby in the next row screamed all of the way, your inflight meal was awful, and you're beyond tired. You drag yourself off the plane and schlep your heavy baggage over to the car park – only to realize that you’ve forgotten where you parked your car. At times like this, wouldn’t it be nice if you could just have your vehicle magically appear? Well, if you're at Düsseldorf Airport in Germany you can. That's because "Ray" the parking robot concierge installed there knows when your flight arrives, picks up your car in its mechanical arms and delivers it right to you.

When you first arrive at the car park and drive into the brightly-lit parking portal, Ray scans your car to determine its size, then gently picks it up at the tires like a forklift and – using its array of sensors and radar guidance – whisks it away to be stored until you return. While you are away, and there is a little "downtime" when there are no new customers, Ray will automatically rearrange the cars based on their scheduled departure time. That way, cars will be in order and as close to the delivery portal as possible to further optimize delivery time.

When you return, Ray will have your car ready and waiting thanks to its connection to the airport's flight database. If you need to pick up your luggage and need a few more minutes, or you decide to stop off for dinner with a friend, there is even an app you can use to tell Ray to wait until you’re ready to go.

'Ray' is claimed to be the world's first autonomous robot parking system

Claimed to be particularly flexible and agile, it is asserted that Ray can spin around on the spot and is able to park cars sideways. And, needing only 3 m (10 ft) lanes instead of the usual 6 m (20 ft) required in ordinary car parks, the makers state that the use of the Ray system can increase available parking space by up to 60 percent.

Using an array of sensors and radar guidance, the robot is able to park, transport, and retrieve cars without assistance. The makers of Ray have even patented the robot’s ability to determine and adjust to the size of the car being transported, and claim that the robot’s sensor system and bespoke software is intelligent enough to ensure complete safety and scratch-free parking and retrieval of vehicles.

Unlike other automated parking systems like the Auto Parkit, its creators say Ray can be easily integrated into any existing parking station. Whilst fully operational, the system is also under evaluation at Düsseldorf Airport, and will be tested and customer feedback collected until the end of the year to determine whether Ray will be expanded to cover more of the parking complex.

The video below shows Ray in action at Düsseldorf airport.

Source: Serva Transport Systems

About the Author
Colin Jeffrey Colin discovered technology at an early age, pulling apart clocks, radios, and the family TV. Despite his father's remonstrations that he never put anything back together, Colin went on to become an electronics engineer. Later he decided to get a degree in anthropology, and used that to do all manner of interesting things masquerading as work. Even later he took up sculpting, moved to the coast, and never learned to surf.   All articles by Colin Jeffrey
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5 Comments

It seems to me extremely complex, costly and inefficient to move cars inside the parking with really big autonomous robots instead of moving people with the equivalent in small size ... The only advantage would be if available parking lot was very rare in order to pack as much car as possible bvut it does not seems to be the case here ...

Deres
2nd July, 2014 @ 01:03 am PDT

It seems a lot more efficient, ruling out the aspect of human error by having the car preparing cars for arrival. I'm guessing if it is a widely used service then it would be easy for people to get behind with moving cars ready for arrival. Also I would assume it completely rule out accidental damage caused by human parking, an inevitable problem.

OrangePanda
2nd July, 2014 @ 01:28 am PDT

These are quite common in Japan. You drive in, and your car is whisked away to a slot on one of many levels. On your return, depending on the specifics, you pay up and hey presto! there is your car waiting for you to take it away.

Mel Tisdale
2nd July, 2014 @ 07:40 am PDT

Can this one handle a car the size of a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado or Lincoln Town Car?

Gregg Eshelman
2nd July, 2014 @ 01:47 pm PDT

"you're beyond tired. ...only to realize that you’ve forgotten where you parked your car."

At times like that it's probably better that you've forgotten rather than getting behind the wheel and falling asleep somewhere you could do a LOT of damage - to innocent others as well...

A great system, but you can bet you'll pay through the nose for what is already expensive parking. Cheaper to taker a taxi to the airport!

@Gregg Has anyone managed to get one of those into a multi-storey car park in the first place? ;-)

agulesin
9th July, 2014 @ 04:25 am PDT
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