Image: Stanley Robotics

If you have flown frequently, the challenge of airport parking has almost certainly added unwelcome stress and hassle to your journey.

To begin with, it’s usually costly. Then there is the debate you might have with yourself about which car park to use; the more expensive on-site car parks or the slightly cheaper ones that are farther away, requiring the use of a shuttle bus? And then there’s the headache of collecting your car upon your return, assuming you can remember where you left it.

Stress no more. artificial intelligence (AI) might have the answer you’re looking for.

This is Stan, an electrically-powered robot that quite literally picks your car up, parks it for you and has it ready for your return. It operates completely autonomously and is particularly adept at cramming lots of cars into the available space. So much so that its developers claim it can create as many as 50% more spaces.

Stan can park your car better than you.
Image: Stanley Robotics

Increasing the number of cars using a car park makes sense from several perspectives. From a commercial point of view, it increases the revenue from a single plot. It also means a decrease in the pressure for additional space and resources.

Currently in use at Paris Charles de Gaulle and Lyon Saint Exupéry, Stan is due to start shuffling cars around at London’s Gatwick airport in August.

Space invaders

You might think you’re a bit of a hot-shot driver when it comes to parking or navigating your way through tight spaces. But you’re never going to be able to scan a space and calculate its size with the degree of accuracy that an AI can. Plus, you’ll always need enough space to get out of your car. That’s something Stan doesn’t need to worry about when arranging vehicles closely together side-by-side.

There is a lot of noise and a lot of hype surrounding the potential for automation and robotics in almost every sector of every economy, and intense debate regarding what this might mean for the future of work.

There are more robots and more automation in use in the global workplace than at any other time in human history. We are also experiencing a period of very high employment. While there is a temptation to see the automation era as something that is going to happen to us at some point in the future, the reality is that it already has.

The changes it will usher in may well be of a magnitude not seen since the agricultural revolution which began around 10,000 years ago when hunter-gatherers took up farming. Those changes, however, are likely to be incremental and follow a cycle of ongoing refinement; if your industry experiences one wave of automation you can anticipate more to follow.

In the food retail sector, robot-only warehouses are already in operation in the UK and US. Meanwhile, customers at the Ratio café in Shanghai are getting used to watching a robot bar-tender fix their drinks – from pre-work coffee to after-hours cocktails and more besides.