Gatwick Airport wants robots to park your car

GATWICK Airport is gearing up to begin trials of an automated valet parking system will see robots collect and park customers’ cars.

In an application to Crawley Borough Council, Gatwick said it wants to launch a “robotic car park pilot project” in April 2019, as part of plans to “optimise the existing car park areas” at its South Terminal long stay car park.

Under the plans, customers will be able to drop off their cars in designated “vehicle cabins” (doored garages, essentially), then book in the vehicle using a touchscreen kiosk. After the booking has been made, a robot arrives to collect the car, lifting its wheels off the ground and transporting it to a nearby parking area.

Since the robot valet will do all the parking duties, the customer is able to head straight to the airport terminal as soon as their vehicle has been booked in.

By linking the customer’s flight details to the booking, it’s claimed the robot will be able to retrieve the car and have it waiting in the cabin once the client returns to the airport.

As no-one will be driving the cars, customers will be able to keep hold of their keys and vehicles can be parked much closer together to save space, as doors don’t need to be opened.

Although such systems are relatively unheard on the UK, Gatwick wouldn’t be pioneering robot valet parking. French company Stanley Robotics, which hopes to supply its “Stan” droids for the Gatwick test, has already conducted pilot programmes at France’s Charles de Gaulle Airport, and Dusseldorf Airport has operated a robotic valet service since 2015.

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