Ray the robot solves parking problems

The Times, David Charter, 25 June 2014.

The days of driving around to find an elusive multistorey car parking space may be numbered — thanks to a German robot called Ray.

A machine carries a white Audi saloon in an underground car park

Motorists at Düsseldorf airport can leave their cars at drop-off zones and summon the laser-guided robotic forklift to scoop it up and store it away.

Without the need for manoeuvring or for car doors to open, the mechanical parking attendant claims to fit 60 per cent more vehicles into the same space than human drivers would manage.

“This technology is especially handy during peak times,” said Christian Jahncke, the managing director of SITA Airport IT, which oversees parking at the airport. “Instead of spending millions of euros to extend our garages, we could simply make better use of the space we already have.”

Ray has four wheels that can turn through 360 degrees to negotiate tight turns; calculates the position of vehicle wheels, and assesses other factors such as weight and protruding wing mirrors and bumpers. It even takes photos so there can be no arguing about scratches or bumps.

Ray approaches from the side and picks up the car by sliding its forks under the wheels. The car is carried to a space selected by the system’s software and automatically returned when the driver pays the ticket.


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