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  • US airports are forerunners in testing bots.
  • Photos: CC

Bots are taking over first jobs at airports.

In recent years, airport operators have become pioneers of innovation, ranging from technologies to combat the pandemic to security features like facial recognition. While in Europe, numerous regulatory and liability issues are still being debated, some US airports are aggressively advancing bot technology.

This includes the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), which has already implemented the use of robots for testing purposes across various levels: from autonomous luggage transport vehicles to robots for food delivery and autonomous robotic cleaning crews. The airport has extensively introduced IoT (Internet of Things) sensors to monitor and control the automated helpers within the airport. At the same time, the integrated digital platform named EASE provides a comprehensive overview of the airport’s key operational information.

Even at Atlanta, the busiest air transportation hub in the US in terms of passenger numbers, robots are deployed daily. At the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), self-driving bot pods transport passengers with limited mobility, making it easier for them to navigate through the airport building, which often involves long distances. A&K from Canada supplies the technology for passenger transportation between check-in and gates for Southwest Airlines flights. Jessica Yip from A&K considers airports as enclosed spaces with average traffic speeds comparable to fast walking, making them ideal places to test robotics and autonomous vehicles.

Germany’s largest airport in Frankfurt is not as advanced in this regard, but they too conducted a test run with robot technology a few months ago. Passengers in Terminal 1A were able to have their hand luggage transported by YAPE in the transit area. The autonomous transport and delivery robot, manufactured by the Italian company e-Novia, moved freely through the terminal at a speed of 6 km/h.