Leave it to the efficient Germans: Düsseldorf Airport now uses a robot to park cars, rather than have travelers search for a spot on their own.
Ray, as the new robot is called, picks up vehicles from six drop-off "transfer boxes" near the terminal before leaving the cars in one of 249 parking spots available through the program—the first of its kind in the world.
Customers reserve the PermiumPlus service in advance and then use an app to indicate their arrival and flight plans. Once everyone's out of the car—confirmed via touch-screen—Ray whisks the vehicle away.
Using Ray costs around $40 per day or $5.50 per hour, which is significantly more expensive than the airport's most affordable parking option (it's possible to pay just $50 for eight days).
So will Ray's premium service take off? Düsseldorf is hoping so. The system could easily expand into other parking spots if there's a demand. The high price point may well be worth it for those travelers who spend hours roaming around parking lots after their vacations trying to remember whether they parked their car a week ago.
Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure and a member of the Trip Doctor news team. You can find him on Twitter at @pschles08.