Humanoid robots developed by Aldebaran Robotics, a French robotics company headquartered in Paris and owned by Japanese conglomerate Softbank, will soon be deployed at the international airport in Bengaluru to assist airport staff.
Bengaluru International Airport Ltd (BIAL), the public-private consortium that operates the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA), has not made an official announcement about this, and a spokesperson said “it was too premature to talk about.”
However, sources at KIA confirmed that the robots are being tested and around 10 of them will be used at various points inside the international airport to process check-ins and in assisting Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel in scanning passengers’ baggages and boarding passes.
The robots belong to the NAO family of autonomous, programmable humanoid robots developed by Aldebaran, which was acquired by the Softbank Group in 2013 for $100 million. The company has released five versions of its line of programmable, voice-, speech- and facial- recognizing, small-scale humanoid robots since its launch in 2006.
NAO, Aldebaran’s first humanoid robot, is 58 cm (around 2 ft) in height and is currently in its 5th iteration. The company has sold almost 10,000 NAOs throughout the world, in areas such as education, entertainment, hospitality, travel and sports. Each NAO robot is said to cost around Rs 10 lakh in India.
At Tokyo’s Narita International Airport, a NAO robotic clerk that speaks multiple languages was first deployed at the store of Mitsubishi Tokyo UFJ, a major Japanese retail bank, but has now moved to other areas of the airport to greet flyers who don’t speak Japanese. A fully autonomous, self-propelling baggage robot called Leo at Geneva airport meets flyers outside the terminal, scans their boarding passes and takes luggage away after issuing passengers a printed receipt. The robot is being run by air transport IT provider SITA, and was developed by BlueBotics SA, a Swiss company.
The humanoid robot is equipped with tactile sensors, ultrasonic sensors, a Gyro, an accelerometer, force sensors, infrared sensors, HD cameras, four microphones and high accuracy digital encoders on each joint. It is controlled by a specialised Linux-based operating system, named NAOqi.
NAO is said to be an endearing, interactive and personalizable robot companion. It is highly customisable for various environments and applications. “Everyone can construct his own experience with specific applications based on his own imagination and needs,” says the company’s website. Aldebaran has also developed two other humanoid robots, Pepper and Romeo, since developing and retailing NAO.
In India, NAO has reportedly been used by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (FactorDaily could not independently verify this).
Here’s a video of a NAO robot driving a car:
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