Like any good valet, he’s comfortable driving various types of vehicle, can manoeuvre into tight parking spaces, reacts quickly to obstacles and won’t take your car off for a joy ride.
Unlike most, he’s a robot, and he is Gatwick’s newest hire.
The airport is working with French firm Stanley Robotics to trial the autonomous, fully-electric machines at its South Terminal car park for three months starting in August.
In theory it could make the parking experience quicker, less stressful, more secure, and more efficient for Gatwick, which could squeeze vehicles into smaller spaces and increase car park capacity by up to 50 per cent.
As first reported by the Crawley Observer, Gatwick’s application to Crawley Borough Council reads: “The use of robotic technology allows more cars to be parked in the same area because of the parking precision and the fact that driver side doors do not need to be left accessible.”
How it works
Travellers drive their car into a garage space where they can take out their bags (including their car keys). A kiosk then allows them to scan their boarding pass to confirm the parking and match the car to their flight details. The box then automatically secures the car inside as the passenger is shuttled to the airport.
Next, the robot arrives. It opens the garage door and slides a long arm underneath the car to lift it by the tyres and take it to be parked in a private car park.
Since the service knows your flight information, your car should be waiting for you in a box when you return.
Stanley Robotics opened the first outdoor car park managed by robots at the start of 2018 at Lyon Saint-Exupéry airport. Stéphane Evanno, Stanley Robotics COO, has said that there were teething issues as passengers were confused about how the system worked, but that 95 per cent of users were now happy with their experience.
Gatwick is currently clearing space for the robots and preparing the garage slots and suitable ground. Its council application states that the project will be extended to other parking zones if successful.
The airport has not yet officially released details about the project or revealed its cost.
It saw 46.1 million passengers in 2018, and is seeking to expand by increasing capacity on its main runway. It has also proposed bringing its standby runway into use by the mid-2020s.