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If you were a passenger departing Geneva Airport in May, it's possible you caught a glimpse into the future when first arriving at the airport. Leo the Baggage Robot, an innovative new project from airline IT company SITA, spent much of May trialing a robotic bag drop outside of Terminal 1 at the Swiss hub.
The project from SITA Lab aims to ease congestion at major airports by automating the baggage handling process, one of the largest sources of lines at the airport. Leo is a self-propelled and fully autonomous baggage robot that can “check in, print bag tags and transport up to two suitcases with a maximum weight of 32kg.” It is also equipped with obstacle avoidance technology, allowing it to navigate safely through busy settings such as departure terminals.
From SITA's website:
Using robotics and artificial intelligence, bags will be collected, checked in, transported and loaded onto the correct flight without ever having to enter the terminal building or be directly handled by anyone other than the passengers themselves.
How Does Leo Work?
Leo helps passengers as they approach the departure terminal. By touching the Scan&Fly button, a door opens up allowing up to two checked bags to be inserted into a compartment on the robot. After scanning your boarding pass using the handheld scanner, Leo will print bag tags for you to attach to your luggage. With your bags loaded and correctly labeled, the compartment closes and a baggage receipt printed, before Leo takes your luggage directly to the baggage handling area for sorting onto the correct flight.
The intent is to have fewer bags and carts in the departure terminal, reduce lines and wait times while streamlining the process of getting passengers straight through security planeside.
Massimo Gentile, Head of IT at Genève Aéroport, said: “In a busy airport such as Geneva Airport, the use of a robot such as Leo limits the number of bags in the airport terminal, helping us accommodate a growing number of passengers without compromising the airport experience inside the terminal. Leo also proves the case for increased use of robotics to make passengers’ journey a little more comfortable, whether it is checking in baggage, providing directions or helping them through the security process.”
You can see Leo in action in the video below.
While one baggage robot won't be making a dent in lines at check-in for Geneva Airport, with a little imagination it's easy to picture a fleet of these machines greeting passengers as they enter the departure terminal and whisking luggage off before it enters the airport.
It's great to see innovation aimed at one of the biggest pain points at major (and most minor) airports, and I hope this is more than just a PR exercise from SITA. For more information on Leo, head over to SITA's website.
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