Robots Will Lead Passengers to Their Gate at Seoul’s Airport

(Courtesy of LG Electronics)
smithsonian.com

Robots are taking over.

Starting this month, robots will invade Seoul’s Incheon International Airport. The robots will drive themselves around the airport, assisting passengers and picking up litter.

Troika, as one robot is called, stands 4.5 feet tall and responds to its name when travelers need help, according to Associated Press.

Courtesy of LG Electronics
(Courtesy of LG Electronics)

Passengers traveling through the airport can scan their boarding pass and Troika will take them directly to their gate. (Theoretically Troika is not programmed with spite, so the robot will not lead rude passengers on an aimless route through the airport.) If passengers start to lag behind the robot, Troika will say “Please stay closer so I can see you."

The robot will be able to speak English, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese by the end of the month. It can tell passengers the weather in their final destination, information about flights or display a map of the airport. When it speaks, Troika’s screen shows eyes that blink and smile.

Another robot will assist maintenance teams around the airport, picking up and collecting any debris that it encounters on its rounds. Incheon Airport said in a statement that it does not expect the robots to replace humans, only add extra assistance during overnight shifts or particularly busy days.

This is only the latest example in a series of airport robot takeovers. At Geneva Airport, there’s a robot named Leo that checks passengers in and takes their checked bags to the baggage handling area. And meanwhile in Amsterdam, there’s a robot named Spencer who can recognize emotion and help passengers make connecting flights.

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