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Connected Valet Robot “Lights Up” Airport Parking

Connecting Dark Assets: An ongoing series on how the Internet of Everything is transforming the ways in which we live, work, play, and learn.

If you’re like me, you usually arrive at the airport for a business trip with no time to spare. Often, I find myself rushing to the airport from a meeting that ran late, or arriving at the crack of dawn after not getting enough sleep. So the last thing I want to deal with is trying to catch the shuttle from long-term parking — or even finding a space in the short-term lot. Some airports now offer valet service, but I’m always hesitant about picking up a scratch or dent when I give my keys to the parking attendant.

But if I were flying out of Düsseldorf, Germany, it would be a different story. This past summer, Düsseldorf introduced ParkingPLUS, which uses a valet robot called “Ray” to park your car safely and efficiently — with no risk to your paint job! Travelers just drive into the ParkingPLUS lot, and Ray takes it from there, measuring the vehicle and picking it up with a forklift-like mechanism. The robot transports the car to a back parking area, efficiently squeezing it into a tight space without trouble. And for travelers, the drop-off point is just a quick walk to the terminal.

Not only is Ray a very skilled parking attendant, it’s also a great example of how the Internet of Everything (IoE) “lights up” dark assets by connecting the previously unconnected. Because ParkingPLUS is connected to the airport’s flight data system, Ray knows how long you’ll be gone. This enables Ray to park your car in the best spot for easy retrieval. And if you change your return flight, you need only enter your new flight information into a mobile app to let Ray know when to have your car ready.

The Düsseldorf airport is the first real-world application of this technology from German company Serva Transport, which does not want to stop with airport parking. By installing its system into busy and congested urban parking garages, the company estimates it can increase parking capacity by 60 percent — saving time, energy, and aggravation as it reduces congestion and improves productivity.

But I’d be happy with the airport version, especially if it came to San Jose! With a connected robot valet, my travel days would be less stressful and more productive. The robot parking valet is just one more way IoE is lighting up dark assets — even dark parking garages.

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New Video Collaboration Robot: TelePresence Gets Moving

Cisco® TelePresence® has transformed the way we collaborate—enabling immersive, face-to-face meetings at a distance, and access to remote experts anywhere in the world. What if that experience was combined with robotic technology, to give the remote user “location spontaneity”—the ability to move around a faraway space…have a chance encounter in the hallway or tour the factory floor?

That is why Cisco’s new joint effort with iRobot—demonstrated publicly this week for the first time—is so exciting: We’ve created a mobile Cisco TelePresence unit that brings collaboration to you—or, conversely, brings you to wherever you need to collaborate. Called iRobot Ava 500, this high-definition video collaboration robot combines Cisco TelePresence with iRobot’s mobility and self-navigation capabilities, enabling freedom of movement and spontaneous interactions with people thousands of miles away.

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