Robots to Help Guide Passengers at Heathrow Airport

London’s Heathrow Airport may seem a bit overwhelming. It’s the busiest airport in Europe and handles over 80 million passengers each year. One airline is looking to help visitors navigate the airport a bit easier by hiring a few friendly robots.

To help guide tourists around the busy Terminal 5, British Airways has turned to two robots. They will help customers find check-in desks, cafes, toilets, and restaurants. Named “Bill”, the robots speak about a dozen languages and are programmed to answer thousands of questions from hurried tourists. They use similar voice recognition tech to that of Amazon’s Alexa.

“These smart robots are the latest innovation, allowing us to free up our people to deal with immediate issues and offer that one-on-one service we know our customers appreciate,” said Ricardo Vidal, head of innovation at British Airways.

Heathrow Robots Bill BotsAndUS - YellRobot
credit: BotsAndUS

Heathrow Robots Include Smart Sensors and GeoLocation Tech

The wheeled robots stand 4ft tall and weigh about 130 pounds. Onboard sensors, cameras, and geolocation technology help the bots make their way around the terminal and avoid any obstacles that may get in the way. “Bill” has an eight-hour battery life and will return to the charging station autonomously when in need of a power-up.

The robot also includes an interactive touch screen along with an array of safety and warning lights. The bot’s activities along with real-time data can be monitored remotely.

Robot Built by London-Based BotsAndUS

Built by London based BotsAndUS, the Heathrow robots were named after Lieutenant EH “Bill” Lawford, who captained the world’s first daily international passenger air service from London to Paris in 1919. British Airways plans to roll out the robots in February.

“In the future, I envisage a fleet of robots working side-by-side with our people offering a truly seamless travel experience,” said Vidal.

Check out our article on robot parking at a Beijing airport and facial recognition identifying sleepy drivers in Russia.