The rise of robotics and how it’s revolutionising air travel

The very idea of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) have been instilled in us for as long as we can remember, most notably through movies and TV. It seems mankind is fixated on the many manifestations of an automated future — both for good and evil.

Take for instance how the early 1960s classic TV show, ‘The Jetsons’ showed us what the future would be like with robotics. At the other end of the spectrum, ‘The Terminator’ Hollywood franchise starring Arnold Schwarzenegger about robotics rising above its creators showed us a bleaker, dystopian future if robots were to rule over us.

While we are many years away from reaching either realities, robotics and AI have grown to become a part of our everyday lives. From our smartphones to our computers and now, even when we are travelling. These days, we see robotics and AI littered around airport terminals to assists travelers commuting to and from destinations.

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Almost a year ago, Singapore’s Changi Airport deployed four automated cleaning bots to its latest addition – Terminal 4. According to Channel News Asia, it will also be looking to add six more bots to the lineup sometime this year. While this is nothing new, the decision by Changi Airport Groups (CAG) to employ the use of bots helped to alleviate the exhaustion that comes to keeping an entire terminal clean.

However, Changi Airport isn’t the only place to utilise robotics and AI technology into its ecosystem. Take a lot at some of the biggest airports around the world that have already secured the services of robotics to make the lives of its travelers easier.

Kansai International Airport's KATE Check-in Kiosk

While Kansai International Airport doesn’t carry the same level of grandeur as Haneda Airport, it’s still capable of holding its own by introducing KATE, an intelligent check-in kiosk. Working alongside SITA, a multinational IT company based in Switzerland, KATE’s aim is to reduce the queues at check-in counters, making it a smoother and easier transition for passengers. It will seamlessly roam between check-in counters to provide a helping hand when it becomes to overwhelming.

Haneda Airport's Reborg-X

Sitting comfortably at the top three best airports of 2018, you can be rest assured that Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan is not resting on its laurels when it comes to keeping up with the rest of the world. To maintain its schedule with the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, Haneda Airport ran a series of trials in January and February 2018. The first robot to go through the test was Reborg-X, an autonomous security and guide robot developed by Sohgo Security Services. There was also a robot to help with heavy-duty baggage known as OTTO 100 and OTTO 1500. Communications between humans and robots are also available thanks to Cinnamon and Robocot, both of which are compact robots.

Sydney International Airport's Chip CANdroid

Arguably the best airport in all of Australia, the Sydney International Airport proves why with its experimentation with robotics alongside Air New Zealand. Backed by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s robotics team, the bank placed a US$300,000 Chip CANdroid at a number of locations around the airport to gauge how passengers will react. Through the trial, it hopes to gain knowledge on how robots can assist travelers in a busy airport environment.

Munich Airport's Josie Pepper

Ever since February 2018, Munich Airport alongside Lufthansa Softbank Robotics began the trial of a humanoid robot. Known as Josie Pepper, the robot was built with IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) cloud-based artificial intelligence technologies. It’s main purpose was to direct passengers to their respective gates while answering questions based on the amenities available at the terminal. Josie doesn’t only provide predefined texts, it also has the ability to learn and adapt to a passenger’s questions and give specific responses.

Incheon International Airport's Airport Guide Robot

Being the second best airport in the world, Incheon International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world, and rightfully so. To aid in its ever-growing passenger base, you can now spot a robot guide roaming about its newly launched Terminal 2. It will provide you will all the assistance, information, and services you may need in T2. This is due to the Incheon International Airport Corporation (IIAC) working closely with LG Electronics since mid-2017 in putting customer-facing robots on trial before it was officially released to the public.