A visit with Ray the Parking Robot at Dusseldorf Airport

Ray alone _Harriet Baskas

Travelers rushing to fly out at Germany’s Düsseldorf Airport can now pay a robotic system named Ray to park and retrieve their cars.

After a driver leaves a car in a designated spot, Ray uses sensors to photograph and measure the car, then picks it up and gently transports it to one of 249 close-in parking spots.

RAY automatic parking

On a nearby touch-screen, passengers confirm to Ray that no one is still in the car and share details of their return flight.

DUS SCREEN

Ray then monitors flight schedules to calculate when a car should be retrieved for its owner and spends any off-time rearranging the cars to maximize use of available parking spaces. If a traveler’s itinerary changes, Ray can be contacted via an app.

“Some people think it’s too space age, but we think busy business travelers, especially, are ready for Ray,” said Thomas Nagel, a software engineer with Bavarian-based serva transport systems which is testing the system at Dusseldorf Airport with air transport IT company SITA.

“German people are very proud of their cars, but there’s insurance in case something goes wrong and we haven’t ruined a car yet,” he said.

The new parking robots (there are three “Rays” at work) are entertaining and convenient.

But they are not cheap.

The airport purchased the system for more than a million dollars. (A good introductory price, Nagel said), but PremiumPlus robot parking with Ray adds about $6 per day to the self-parking option in the close-in garage, which already tops $33 a day.

DUS RAY AT REST