In a world where parking space and time are precious commodities, valets provide a valuable service. But for those of us who have watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, entrusting car keys to another human can be an uncomfortable experience.
That’s where Stan comes in. Stan is a fully autonomous robot valet that can park your car for you. What’s more, you don’t need to hand over the keys to your ride to anyone to get it parked. That’s because the parking robot works somewhat like a smart tow truck. Once you leave a car at the assigned drop-off point, Stan rolls up to it, picks it up with a mechanism that slides under the car’s body, and rolls away into the parking lot with it. And since you get to keep the keys, you can be almost certain that your car stays safe wherever Stan decides to take it.
In order to have all that happen, customers must first make a booking via a mobile app or website. Once that’s done, the system assigns a spot in the parking area to your car. The robot makes use of sensor technology to figure out the dimensions of your car so it can zip around without causing any damage to its payload. An added benefit is that the whole system works on electricity. Since cars don’t actually need to be started to be parked, it is a complete zero-emission solution.
Each Stan is capable of managing 400 parking spots at any given time. That translates to between 20,000 and 30,000 cars handled by a single robot over the duration of a year, and a lot of “You won’t believe how I got my car parked today.” Apart from the novelty of it, using robots to get the job done has several benefits.
The most significant upside is the efficiency with which cars are arranged. Since humans don’t need to get in and out of cars to park them, they can be packed in a lot more densely. The creators claim Stan can fit in 50 percent more cars into any given area compared to traditional parking. Additionally, the elimination of things like lighting in the parking area (Stan doesn’t need to see), paint for ground markers, and maintenance costs, establishments save a lot on their operating costs.
Stanley Robotics, the operation behind Stan, is starting off by targeting airports. Its autonomous robot has already been tapped by Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport. The company is looking at launching in more locations in the near future. Until then, you might just have to settle for having a human park your car at any location on demand.
Prateek Jose is a writer and engineering undergrad from India with an unhealthy obsession for obscure historical trivia. Conversations about absurdist fiction and the technological singularity make his day. He’s already uploading parts of his brain to servers by writing for websites such as this one.
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