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Kate joins Leo in stalking pax around the airport

February 7, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Kate and Leo are two walking robots that follow travellers around airports, helping them check in, carrying their luggage and generally giving a hand. They are in operation already and perhaps coming soon to an airport near you.

They don’t actually walk – they glide or roll along the floor; and you don’t have to call them, they come when they sense they are needed.

Kate, sometimes styled KATE, is an intelligent check-in kiosk, newly introduced at Kansai Airport in Japan by SITA, the air transport communications and IT specialist.

SITA is working with Kansai Airports, the operator of Kansai International Airport (KIX) and Osaka International Airport (ITAMIon the project. KATE will autonomously move to congested areas in the airport with the aim to reduce check-in queues, promising to relegate check-in queues to the past.

Here’s KATE and friends in action:

SITA presented KATE to a packed media crowd at a press conference last week at Kansai International Airport, where its capabilities were demonstrated to an impressed audience. With the help of artificial intelligence and geo-navigation – the kiosk moved seamlessly to areas of the airport where additional check-in services were required. KATE’s collision avoidance technology, combined with various data sources, decides where it should be – whether at a busy area to ease congestion or to a docking station to recharge when power source runs low.

The trial with KATE at Kansai will run throughout this month, with many airlines including Air France, Air China, Cathay Pacific Airways, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, KLM, All Nippon Airways, Asiana Airlines and United Airlines.

SITA president Asia Pacific, Sumesh Patel said Japan had “always been a forerunner in robotic innovations and intelligent technology.

“It is no surprise that Kansai Airports is leading the industry with the trial of SITA’s intelligent check-in kiosk, KATE. SITA has been the technology partner of Kansai Airports for the past three years, and we are thrilled to be partnering with the airport to introduce intelligent machines to improve the passenger experience. We will work with Kansai Airport to evaluate how this new technology is able to provide an even better traveller experience at the airport.”

Leo, meanwhile, is a “fully autonomous, self-propelling baggage robot” with the capacity to check in, print bag tags and transport up to two suitcases with a maximum weight of 32kg. It also has an obstacle avoidance capability and can navigate in a high-traffic environment – such as an airport.

Leo, another SITA innovation, has been tried at Geneva Airport where passengers used the robot to check-in their bags, as below:

Written by Peter Needham

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