The dawn of a new year only some means things have to be developed – including airlines and airports. While there is already so much technology introduced to airlines and airports in 2015, there are more steps in technology to be taken in 2016.
Robotics and Artificial Intelligence
Imagine robots to do the customer service in an airport terminal. You no longer have to imagine when you are in Geneva Airport, as they have already launched a trial of such robot back in 2013. Robots were also used in 2015 in Haneda Airport and Auckland Airport for luggage transportation and cleaning.
However, in late 2015, KLM launched a game-changer robot by the name of Spencer, who still start operational trials at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Spencer is said to level up to guiding groups of passengers directly to their departure gate. More than that, Spencer is hoped to recognize emotions considering group behavior and to respond to unexpected situations.
Emirates also intends to explore the potential of robots as part of a major technology transformation initiative, alongside the role of artificial intelligence. Neighbor carrier Etihad also had the same efforts, having recently secured a $700 million deal with IBM, making use of IBM Watson.
Data science isn’t commonplace to most of us. But to airlines like Emirates and Etihad, it can improve efficiency, bring down costs, increase revenue and drive greater customer satisfaction. Such technology will be able to communicate findings to both business and IT leaders in a way that can influence how an organization approaches a business challenge. Good data scientists will not just address business problems, they will pick the right problems that have the most value to the organization. That’s why sets data scientist apart from others according to IBM.
Self-service check-in and bag drop facilities are already a thing in airports everywhere, but there’s no stopping technology to be just there: biometrics will set a crucial role in adding a further layer of security and create a smooth passenger experience. Auckland Airport already has one, where Air New Zealand installed the first of 13 biometric-enabled self-service bag drop units, which have cameras intended to capture passenger’s face upon bag drop.
This biometric service is also eyed for a single passenger token, which can link passenger’s biometric data to their boarding pass and passports, eliminating presentation of documents at multiple stages of airport journey.
Smarter baggage solutions
Not only biometrics-enabled bag drop, but we will also have a new baggage tracking device for frequent flyers. This had initial efforts in 2015 by a joint launch of RIMOWA and Lufthansa of the RIMOWA Electronic Tag. Various airlines have also shown interest in exploring permanent bag tags such as British Airways, Air France-KLM, Air New Zealand and Brussels Airlines.
When all of the aforementioned go together, we have this final ‘technology trend’ that airlines and airports must have in 2016: passenger empowerment.
Robotics has the potential to level with humans when it comes to customer service; artificial intelligence and data science can be useful in processing important data to personalize flying experience; biometric-enable services will bring ease to passengers with their bag drops; and smart baggage solutions will simplify the process of the airport journey. All these are for the benefit of passengers for them to feel empowered. Every flyer wants smooth airport and airline experience and these technologies give us some promise to give just that.