Seoul’s Incheon International Airport has deployed a small fleet of robots programmed to help travelers with everything from finding their gate and their boarding times to getting a local weather forecast for their travel destination in an initiative that’s become a growing trend among international hubs.
Starting this month, fliers passing through South Korea’s largest airport can consult one of five LG Electronics guide robots roving the terminal, dispatched to help lost or hapless travelers.
After inserting and scanning their boarding pass, travelers are provided with their flight information, a map of the airport, weather data, along with the distance and time it takes to get to their boarding gate on a large touchscreen display.
For now, the blinking, talking robots named Troika can answer questions in English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
The guides can also escort lost or harried passengers to their gate.
Along with serving as airport staff, another set of robots will be dispatched to help clean the airport terminal.
The Airport Cleaning Robot is described as a “super-sized robot vacuum” built with smart sensors and multiple cameras to clean tiles and carpet floors without bumping into harried passengers and colliding into crowds.
The guide robots at Incheon are being dispatched ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games.
Incheon isn’t the first airport to hire robot staff.
Last year Dutch carrier KLM carried out a pilot project at Amsterdam Airport Schipol with the debut of Spencer, a robot tasked with escorting passengers to their boarding gate.
In Taiwan, at Taipei Songshan Airport, EVA Air passengers are greeted by a Chinese-speaking robot named Pepper, while another works at the Taoyuan International Airport’s VIP lounge.
Last fall, Mineta San Jose International Airport in California debuted a trio of robots to help travelers find the services and amenities they need inside the airport as well as entertain them.