Futuristic check-in with Air New Zealand’s robotic innovation

We’ve all experienced the queues of excited holidaymakers eager to get through the gate and onto their plane at the airport, but if an experiment at Sydney Airport proves a success, that could all be a thing of the past. The future of air travel may well be here, and it’s in the form of the world’s first robotic check-in assistant.

A CANdroid robot named Chip has been helping passengers at Australia’s busiest airport to check in for their flights this week as part of a seven-day experiment by Air New Zealand that is the first of its kind.

Far from the bland computer screens that are often provided as electronic check-in assistants, the robot is a black-and-white intelligent being in human form, with eyes, arms and a touch-screen chest.

When passengers hold up their boarding passes in Chip’s line of sight, the robot scans the information with its eyes. Once they are all sorted and ready to be on their way, Chip even waves goodbye as they proceed to their flight!

Tiziana Bianco, general manager of the Sydney lab that developed the robot – Commonwealth Bank Innovation Labs – described the huge potential that technological advancements such as this could hold for the travel industry in the future.

“It is a wonderful opportunity to explore the possibilities of a horizon technology such as social robotics, and what it might enable in the future. People interact with them in a very social and sometimes emotional way.

“Chip is one of the most advanced humanoid robots in the world and is perfect for our work aimed at understanding how humans and robots interact in dynamic social spaces,” she said.