Let Ray Take the Airport Parking Headaches Away

 

Ray System Parking, image provided by Dusseldorf Airport
Ray System Parking, image provided by Dusseldorf Airport

A new robotic parking system installed at Dusseldorf airport provides passengers willing to pay the premium with a unique and simple solution to parking their cars before flying.

The system which the Dusseldorf Airport named Ray–the parking robot–was developed by SERVA transport systems in the Bavarian town of Granbenstatt.

Passengers leave their cars in “one of six spacious transfer boxes” and Ray moves the vehicle to a storage location in the parking facility, then delivers the car again when the passenger returns.

“The drop-off is quick and close to the terminal so that travellers can start their trip without delays.” Says Dusseldorf Airport in its announcement.

You can watch Ray in action here:

“The new Premium PLUS Offer expands our broad range of parking services by another innovative and customer oriented segment,” says Thomas Schanlke, the airport’s Managing Director.  “Our product especially appeals to business travellers, who arrive at the airport shortly before the flight, seek efficient parking, and return with a few delays.  Our product is ideal for them.”

I wouldn’t argue with that, and sure could have used it a couple of weeks ago when travelling to Brussels for the SITA IT Summit.   You can read all about that mess in my post Fast-Track Means I Love You, an SAS Short Story on LinkedIn. Please Billund–let’s get a Ray for Christmas.  Billund does offer premium parking with a car-wash included, by reservation, but you have to park the car yourself.

For now, you can only find Ray at Dusseldorf Airport, but Dusseldorf thinks Ray and others like it have a part to play in tomorrow’s travel experience.

“We expect many innovations in the area of IT-supported parking in the coming years.  The use of intelligent robot systems will revolutionise parking in the future,” explains Dr. Christian Jahncke, Managing Director SITA Airport IT GmbH, a joint venture of Dusseldorf Airport and SITA.  “I am excited that we can utilise this very promising system together at Dusseldorf Airport as a world premiere.”

Under Dusseldorf’s current Ray program, passengers must reserve the individual parking spot before the trip through the online parking system (parken.dus.com) and, of course, there’s an app for that.  “DUS PremiumPLUS-Parking” is available for iOS and Android).

Ray parking is accessed at the special parking area at the arrival level at car park P3.  “During the first phase,” says the announcement, “there are 249 available parking spots.”

One of the most impressive bits of data coordination for this service is that the Ray system matches stored return trip data from the passenger’s profile with the airport’s updated database, to know exactly when the passenger will arrive and ensure the car is ready to go.

But what happens when there’s a travel delay?–you ask.  Itinerary changes can be updated via the parking app.

Dusseldorf has even planed for the highly-unlikely possibility that Ray could mess up.

“The system offers our passengers much added value in this monitored area, including vehicle insurance. In addition, a friendly attendant is always available for our customers on site. Our introductory rate until the end of the year for the PremiumPLUS offer is 29 euros per day and 4 euros per hour,” says Thomas Schnalke. “If customers adapt the technology, we will consider expanding the system, since it is easy to integrate it into existing parking structures.”

I’ve got to agree with Dusseldorf on this one.  This type of service automation has strong promise as a revenue source for airports around the world.  And parking is big-business to airports.

At the Passenger Terminal Expo, Fidel Lopez, Executive Commercial Director of Heathrow Airport revealed that parking revenue represents 40% of Heathrow’s total revenue during our chat after the airpot was awarded the Skytrax World’s Best Airport Terminal for T5 and Best Airport Shopping for 2014.

Premium services are attractive to busy passengers, and many won’t mind paying a little more for easy-peasy parking–especially when travelling on short business trips, as Dusseldorf suggests.

While there is convenient public transport to some airports, Copenhagen CPH for example is a breeze to travel to on DSB because the train takes you right under the terminal, but not all airports have this convenience and sometimes even travelling by train to a major airport takes more time than driving to a closer regional airport.

So what do you say?  Do you want your airport to get a Ray?  Would you pay a premium to avoid having to drive around looking for a spot when you’re running late?

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