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Munich Airport hires humanoid robot to help flyers


Humanoid robot Josie Pepper answers questions at Munich Airport. — AFP

Humanoid robot Josie Pepper answers questions at Munich Airport. — AFP

At the airport's Terminal 2, Josie Pepper will take up residence at the top of the ramp leading to the shuttle connecting the main terminal to the satellite building, where she will help passengers with their travel-related queries.

At a child-sized 120cm tall, the humanoid is designed with big, round, sparkling green eyes that light up when she talks and arms and fingers that can replicate hand gestures – charms that make her irresistible to passers-by who seem to instinctively pet her smooth, bald head.

Developed by SoftBank Robotics, Josie is powered by cloud-based, artificial intelligence technologies from IBM Watson Internet of Things. 

Instead of spouting out stock answers, she is designed to answer questions individually, thanks to her brain – a high-performance processor with WLAN internet access which is also linked with Munich's airport data.

The move follows a similar program which rolled out at Incheon International Airport in Seoul last summer, which deployed a fleet of robots capable of helping flyers find their gate or the nearest restaurant and cleaning the terminal.

Likewise, Dutch carrier KLM carried out a pilot project at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in 2016 with the debut of Spencer, a robot tasked with escorting passengers to their boarding gate.

And in Taiwan, at Taipei Songshan Airport, EVA Air passengers are greeted by a Chinese-speaking robot named Pepper, also developed by Softbank, while another works at the Taoyuan International Airport's VIP lounge. — AFP Relaxnews

   

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