Robots to help airport travellers find their way

Robots will soon start roaming South Korea’s largest airport, helping travellers find their boarding gates and keep its floors clean as the country prepares for next year’s Winter Olympics.

Starting in weeks, Troika, a self-driving robot made by LG Electronics, will rove the Incheon International Airport, telling travellers how long it takes to get to boarding gates and escorting them to their flights. A jumbo cleaning robot will help cleaning staff swab the wide expanses of floors in the airport west of Seoul.

Troika, about the size of a young teen, is equipped with a rectangular display on its front that looks like a giant smartphone screen and can show flight information, an airport map and weather data. Its partly rounded head has a flat touchscreen face that displays blinking or smiling eyes or information.

The guiding bot responds to its name.

Travellers can insert their tickets into its scanner to get flight information, and Troika will then ask if they want to be escorted to their gates, warning laggards to “Please stay closer so I can see you”.

Troika’s debut piqued the interest of many in the airport. Heads swivelled and children approached with curiosity as the 140cm robot with its white body and black screens glided through the terminal.

Incheon International Airport believes it is the first to introduce such service-oriented robots in a South Korean public space.

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