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Published: 19 Dec 2014

Robot Valet Parking

Robot valet parking at Dusseldorf Airport

Dusseldorf Airport has introduced a robot-controlled valet service to make parking easier and more efficient for travellers.

Prior to using the service, users must confirm the vehicle is empty via a touchscreen at the entrance to the car park, before the robot, nicknamed Ray, measures the vehicle, picks it up with a forklift system, and places it in one of 249 allocated parking bays. The robot is capable of lifting all standard cars weighing up to 3.31 tonnes.

Ray is also connected to the airport's flight data system, meaning customers' vehicles are made ready for collection when they land. Users can also inform the system of any changes to their schedule via a parking app.

Driven by rapid developments in technology, transport hubs are becoming increasingly automated. According to UK-based resource management company SITA, 98% of airports will have automated services by 2016. Changi Airport in Singapore recently trialled self-service kiosks and bag drops, while airlines such as Air Berlin and Iberia have introduced wearable boarding passes that can be displayed on a smartphone or watch. For more on this, see Future Service: Transport Hubs.

The food industry has also seen an increase in automated service, with devices such as the Makr Shakr robot, developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Senseable City Lab, allowing users to create cocktails through a smartphone app. For more on this, see Digital Dining. For further insight into the future of robotics, see SXSW: Robotics.