Air New Zealand trials robotic staff at Sydney Airport

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If you flew out of Sydney Airport with Air New Zealand last week, chances are that you met Chip CANdroid – a whiz-bang robotic employee being trialled by the airline.

Chip was loaned to Air New Zealand by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), which was probably timely for Chip, seeing as the bank is in all kinds of hot water right now.

The social humanoid robot was part of a five-day experiment for Air New Zealand as it explores new ways of enhancing customer experience. The airline has already hinted at using this futuristic technology in addition to cabin crew to improve the in-flight experience.

“The airport is a busy and often overcrowded environment with signs, instructions and messages every which way you look,” said Air NZ Chief Digital Officer Avi Golan.

“Our customers can feel overwhelmed. The experiment is about bringing information to life, through innovative technologies.

“This partnership and experiment with CBA and Chip is another way we are pushing the boundaries to ensure we remain at the forefront of technology. This will allow us to further enhance the experience we offer our customers.”

Chip wandered around departure gates chatting with travellers, checking in passengers, giving directions and offering all types of assistance. The robot communicates through a screen in his chest and scans boarding passes with his eyes. Pretty cool, eh?

Typically, Chip spends his time at CBA’s Innovation Labs, interacting with students and exploring new ways that humanoid robots can assist with customer service and other tasks.

“People interact with them in a very social and sometimes emotional way, which means they can enhance experiences in ways that other technologies are unable to do,” said Tiziana Bianco from CBA’s Innovation Labs.

“Chip is one of the most advanced humanoid robots in the world, and is perfect for our work aimed at understanding how humans and robots interact in dynamic social spaces.”

Air New Zealand is not the first airline to use humanoid robots. Earlier this year, Taiwanese airline Eva Air put two interactive robots into operation at Taipei’s Songshan and Taoyuan airports.

Are we seeing the future of the airport experience? How would you feel about being greeted by robots when you next take off?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

6 Comments

Total Comments: 6
  1. 0
    0

    Why the cheap shot at CBA

  2. 0
    0

    Why not. They seem to have/are engaged in what could almost be called illegal activity.

  3. 0
    0

    I would not go near them and I have worked with real big robots.
    In my career I helped develop industrial robots for subsea work.
    My robots had no internet connection by design.
    However most of the current batch of super geeks have no concept of safety and real cyber security
    Today almost every robot with internet connectivity today has operating systems that are easily hackable.
    Just hacking to stopping them working is perhaps ” hacker fun” but re-programming them to run amuck and harming people by remote control is terrorism.
    Most governments and companies are vast asleep at the cyber wheel.

  4. 0
    0

    When humans are no longer needed to perform any tasks because of robotics, do we all go on welfare.

  5. 0
    0

    Hope he’s being slugged extra tax, moonlighting with
    Air New Zealand indeed.

  6. 0
    0

    Its all fun until he stalls, lags, or there is no power. Anyone who uses technology knows how wrong things can go very quickly.


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