This is Ray and he'll be your robot valet for the day.
Ray is basically a very smart forklift, picking up your car, wheeling it through the cavernous airport parking garage, and slotting it into a space while you get molested by the TSA.
It's the latest project from Serva Transport Systems and Ray's first round of tests are underway at the Düsseldorf Airport in Germany. Here's how it works.
You roll up to the entrance of the garage, walk over to a kiosk and tell the computer what flights you're on. Ray comes over, uses sensors and radar to scan your car to figure out the wheelbase and it's overall length, then lifts it off the ground and whisks it away to hang with its four-wheeled friends.
While you're gone, Ray keeps working. He (it) automatically rearranges the cars in the garage to maximize space, and repositions cars based on when travelers return, so when you flight lands, your ride can be plucked out quickly. Naturally, there's an app for all this, so if you're luggage is stuck between LaGuardia and Botswana, you can tell Ray to chill while you get things sorted.
But the best thing about Ray is that it doesn't require a completely new parking structure like the ones you'd find throughout Europe and Japan. It can use the same lot with minor modifications (like a charging station for Ray and his pals), and every car doesn't need to be fitted with thousands of dollars of autonomous tech, either. And since Ray doesn't have to open doors, the spaces and lane sizes can be cut in half.
The Düsseldorf Airport has dedicated 249 spaces for the first consumer tests, and plans to expand the system to the rest of the facility if Ray doesn't inadvertently chuck an Audi off the third floor.