Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 February 2020

Drivers, meet Ray, the silicon valet

Ray, the robot concierge, could be parking your car if you depart from an airport in the UAE in the near future if a team of flexible, intelligent forklifts is signed up by authorities.
GreenParking’s Robot Ray is tailored to fit into existing structures so car parks do not need alterations. Courtesy GreenParking
GreenParking’s Robot Ray is tailored to fit into existing structures so car parks do not need alterations. Courtesy GreenParking

DUBAI // Ray, the robot concierge, could be parking your car if you depart from an airport in the UAE in the near future if a team of flexible, intelligent forklifts is signed up by authorities.

The system, currently being used in sections of Dusseldorf airport, was unveiled in the region on the final day of the Gulf Traffic conference on Wednesday.

Different to automated parking systems where a factory-like facility is purpose built, this uses existing car parks with robot additions.

“Imagine a forklift that takes your car into a normal car park and stacks cars next to each other. Since we reduce driveways, we achieve 60 per cent more cars parked in the same space,” said Sam Alawiye, chief executive of GreenParking, a parking management company that represents Serva, the German manufactured system.

“We are talking to airports in the UAE and also to airports in the region,” he said, declining to name them for reasons of commercial confidentiality.

The new system involves a passenger dropping their car in a zone where cameras scan its height, weight and licence plates. Using a touchscreen, the passenger fills in details about departure and arrival flights as the system can link with airport information systems.

Then Robot Ray uses three-dimensional scans, adjusts to the size of the vehicle, lifts it and takes it to be parked.

GreenParking is also discussing baggage drop-offs.

Cost is estimated at between Dh7million and Dh8m. Enhancements would cost extra.

The launch drew interest from conference visitors.

“This is pretty good because you can retrofit existing garages,” said Dave Hill, international representative of the International Parking Institute, USA.

“Drive-outs and ramps take up 50 per cent of garage space. It is probably expensive but there are savings in areas where land value is high like Downtown Dubai.”

Blake Laufer, vice president research of T2 Systems, Canada, said the challenge would be handling a surge in demand.

“When you have a large number of people coming to get cars at same time, you would still be limited by the number of robots and bays where cars can be accessed.”

rtalwar@thenational.ae

Updated: December 9, 2015 04:00 AM

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