Lexus has those self-parking cars, so why not self-parking airplanes?
According to this article from the Star Telegram.com, the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport has equipped about 90 gates with an auto-docking system that allows some American Airlines planes to park at the gates without the aid of ramp workers standing there waving orange sticks.
For now, it seems, the laser-based Safedock guidance system will be used when thunderstorms, lightening, and other conditions make it unsafe for people to be out there guiding planes to the gate.
The system seems to be common in other countries, but still unique in the U.S. But with airlines and airports trying to cut costs any way they can, I wouldn’t be surprised if the self-parking airplane system takes off and the orange wand-people disappear.
That will be too bad. In a world where ticketing has become automated, flight attendants have become sandwich salespeople, and airplane pilots stay locked in their cabins, at least we could pretend that those ramp workers waving at the plane were actually welcoming us to town.