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Asia Minute: Robots to Help at South Korea’s Largest International Airport

YouTube Via CC Commons
YouTube Via CC Commons

Travelers to South Korea may soon be getting some help from an unexpected source.  The country’s largest international airport is preparing for some new roles to be played by robots.  HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

If you’re wandering around South Korea’s Incheon Airport with travel questions, you may soon be able to get help from a roaming robot.  Cleaning robots are already in use at a number of facilities…including Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

They look like overgrown versions of those little circular robots that go sweeping around floors in people’s houses.  But the ones planned for Incheon are more complex---they’re designed to help passengers with questions about directions, or flight times or gate numbers.  And they will provide that information in Korean, English, Chinese or Japanese.  Other robot cousins will deal with luggage and potentially help with security.

Robots are already in use to a certain extent in airports around the world, according to a piece in what can only be called a specialty magazine….titled “Airport Improvement.”  The magazine reports a bright future for cleaning robots in airports---and for automated machines that can perform landscaping….and even street maintenance outside terminal buildings.  The Geneva airport is currently experimenting with a robot that can help passengers with curbside check in---including loading luggage.

Back at Incheon, those test runs with the new robots are expected to start by the end of the year.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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