Tokyo International Airport at Haneda is the test bed for a proof-of-concept test of a small humanoid robot.
The robot is the Hitachi EMIEW3 with multi-language dialogue and autonomous running functions to provide passengers with information on shops and facilities, and to guide them to their destination at the airport.
The robots at Haneda are trying to provide helpful info to passengers in English and Japanese.
Hitachi is running three phases of trials from now to December in Haneda’s domestic terminal 2.
Phase 1: In early September, the EMIEW3 robots will greet passengers at a dedicated information counter. They can answer questions in Japanese and English, give spoken guidance and direct passengers to more information via info display systems next to the counter that contain facility maps, outlines of airport facilities, and photos of shops..
Phase 2: Between September 8 and 14, when passengers ask a question, the EMIEW3, moving autonomously, will lead the users to the guidance information display, and provide answers and explanations.
Phase 3: In December, based on requests from passengers wishing to be led to a given destination, the EMIEW3 will guide them there, running within a broader area of the airport floor.
Demonstration at Haneda
In a demonstration today, two EMIEW3 robots worked together to guide a foreign woman playing the role of a tourist.
The woman asked EMIEW3 for directions to a foreign exchange counter. The humanoid robot at the information center called another EMIEW3 robot to take her to the shop. “Please follow me,” the robot said.
The test was to check whether the robots can catch the words of the woman amid loud noise in the crowded airport. They succeeded in giving her guidance, but some delays were also observed.
Hitachi Senior Vice President Hiroshi Sato:
“I think the robots get about 70 points out of 100 today because they might have had some difficulties understanding the language she spoke.
The EMIEW3 is the third generation of Hitachi’s humanoid robot.
EMIEW3 is a humanoid robot that moves independently with customers who require support in shopping malls and other public spaces. It was developed to provide support in customer operations through various services, such as customer reception and guidance.
So it should be ideal at airports.
Hitachi plans to start the commercial use of the EMIEW3 around 2018, aiming to have the robot serve foreigners visiting Japan during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
Hitachi said that a recent increase in the number of foreign visitors to Japan has raised the need for a variety of services. They hope to increase the number of EMIEW3 languages available to include Chinese and Korean.
Japan Airlines trials robot at Haneda airport
In February 2016, Japan Airlines trialled a robot at Haneda called Nao.
60-centimeters-tall, it speaks Japanese, English and Chinese.
It was placed at the departure counter and security check areas to provide information to passengers on such things as the airport’s facilities and the deadline for security checks.
Other robot trials to enhance the passenger experience include:
N.B. Image credit: Hitachi