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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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11 Comments

  1. During my 3 year commute form Santa Cruz to Cupertino, I used to daydream about robotic arms that would function like a conveyor belt ski lift that would just push/pull cars up and over Hwy 17 during rush hours... we are getting closer!

  2. It is amazing to me how many people go in and out of airports on a daily basis. It is even more amazing how airports are able to keep their parking organized. I wonder how construction workers are able to come up with ideas to make airport parking better for everyone. It seems like they are always coming up with ideas to improve things and make them more efficient.

  3. What if you arrive at checkin and can't find your passport? How do you get quick access to your car to check if it's there?

  4. Great idea.

  5. Good idea. This application could be used at other public or private parking facilities as well. One time at NY I had two people taking 45 minutes to get my car out the packed parking space because I came ahead of scheduled time w/o calling them and didn't know how they store my car. End up I paid a big tip to calm them down with many of sorry.

    • You’re absolutely right, Yougen. IoE are applicable for both private companies and public organizations like cities. Our initial estimate of the value that IoE delivers was $14.4 trillion. That was for private companies only. The next year we predicted that public sector organizations would achieve $4.6 trillion in value, totaling $19 trillion over 10 years. While the public sector number is smaller, our research found that the public sector, in many ways, is leading the private sector . You can learn more about our research here: http://ioeassessment.cisco.com/learn/value-stake-public-sector

  6. Amazing article that really drives home the point that innovation is truly the lifeblood of every IT company. Fantastic example of the Airport parking woes which really has every traveller on edge as the precious minutes used up by looking for a suitable parking before check-in are usually the most stressful and aggravating. Haphazardly parked cars take up space and also lead to a fall in revenue thus establishing a clear relation between the ROI and IOE.

    • Thank you, Vivek. You hit on several key points. The first is that IT can lead the transformation that IoE enables. The second is that IoE solutions should address real pain points for customers, consumers, and citizens. And the third is that IoE, when done right, provides a real return on investment.

  7. I am traveling this weekend and really appreciate the value of this technology! It's amazing what robots can do.