Frankfurt Airport Introduces Autonomous Passenger Assistance Robots

As we see airports around the world introducing new and exciting technologies, Frankfurt Airport has added something to the mix. The airport, which is the aviation capital of Germany, has been trialling new, self sufficient robots.

Lufthansa A320neo
Frankfurt Airport is to trial passenger assistance robots. Photo: Lufthansa

Like something out of a futuristic movie, Frankfurt Airport has trialled robots to assist passengers with their journey. The new robot is named YAPE, which stands for “Your Autonomous Pony Express”. It’s purpose is to guide passengers around the airport, in addition to transporting small items of baggage such as a backpack. The robot was previously trialed in collaboration with Japan Post.

An airport guide

‘Your Autonomous Pony Express” has been trialed at Frankfurt airport as a guide. Anybody who has frequented Frankfurt will be well aware of its long endless corridors. Navigating the distances should become easier with the help of YAPE. However, the trial so far has only been very limited.

The Robot will be fully autonomous. Photo: Frankfurt Airport

Frankfurt Airport trialed Your Autonomous Pony Express for just five days. As such, the trial was very limited with few passengers getting to use the robot. During the trial, a smartphone was required for passengers to be able to interface with the robot.

Baggage transportation

While not designed to transport large or heavy bags, the Your Autonomous Pony Express robot will help to transport passengers bags. This happens should the passenger using the robot so wish. After all, if the robot is going there anyway, why doesn’t if help with bags?

Currently, YAPE can carry bags weighing up to 30kg, quite the load considering some airlines’ checked baggage limits. Driving at up to six kilometers per hour, it won’t be able to get a speeding ticket just yet. The slow speed also gives people time to dodge the robot. However, if the robot does collide with a human, the slow speed should also help to minimize the damage.

The robot can also transport bags up to 30kg in weight. Photo: Frankfurt Airport

What about the future?

So far the autonomous robot has been trialed across five days at Frankfurt Airport. This is in addition to a trial with Japan Post. Frankfurt Airport will now evaluate whether they wish to pursue the technology.

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The airport mentioned that in the next phase of testing, they will be enabling the robot to work directly with a human. This will negate the need to control it through the use of an app.

Alexander Laukenmann, who heads the Airside and Terminal Management unit at Fraport AG, said,

“As a leader in innovation, we constantly strive to push forward new digital technologies aimed at enhancing the travel experience for our passengers. Our aim with YAPE is to test which aspects of artificial intelligence and robotics can help to further improve the quality of services at Frankfurt Airport.”

What do you make of Frankfurt Airport’s new autonomous passenger assistance robot? Would you give it a try? Let us know your thoughts in our comments section.

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Norman

Great idea once they get rid of the need for a smartphone