Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is doing a trial with a robot providing tips to help passengers get through security.
The robot uses audio instructions in English and on-screen animated instructions in six different languages to remind passengers to remove items such as scarves, light jackets and belts and empty their pockets before going through screening.
It looks like a kid holding up a really big tablet.
For the trial, Sea-Tac officials plan to track the number of times passengers trigger the body scanner alarm during and after the robot test.
The airport stresses that the robot is not designed to replace humans but to augment them, allowing them to spend more time on critical security tasks.
Robots and virtual assistants before screening
Other airports have tried virtual assistants to do the same thing.
San Antonio introduced two virtual assistants in 2014. Similar to a hologram, the virtual assistant is a projected video image that is activated when a customer approaches or passes.
Heathrow Terminal 4 has had a virtual assistant before screening for some years. No matter how often I’ve been there I’ve never seen a passenger even glance at it. And tonight it still there but not even turned on.
The trouble with … robots pre-screening
Possibly the trouble with a robot or avatar before screening is that passengers don’t get time to dwell at the particular point where the robot or avatar is planted.
It is just a trial but it seems to be a bit disappointing in its scope and the abilities of current robots. The job could be done just as well with some decent digital signs.
The robots were the first robots to be deployed at a U.S. airport and were more ambitious than those at Seattle. They were programmed to engage and entertain passengers while assisting them with locating dining, shopping, and other services.
N.B. Image credit: portofseattle.org