British Airways to trial robots at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5

The robots will help direct passengers through the terminal 

Cathy Adams
Thursday 19 December 2019 11:06 GMT
BA deploys robots in T5 to help passengers find their way around

There could soon be a couple of new faces at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5… in the shape of robots.

From next year, British Airways will trial a pair of fully autonomous robots to help passengers navigate through the airport.

The AI-powered robots will help the 90,000 passengers who travel through Terminal 5 each day with questions and real-time flight information, as well as escorting them to specific locations within the airport using geo-location technology.

The robots, designed by London firm BotsAndUs, can also answer questions in multiple languages.

They will be called ‘Bill’ after “Bill” Lawford, the captain of the world’s first scheduled international flight by BA predecessor Air Transport and Travel, which flew from Hounslow Heath to Paris on 25 August 1919.

“These smart robots are the latest innovation allowing us to free up our people to deal with immediate issues and offer that one-on-one service we know our customers appreciate,” said Ricardo Vidal, British Airways’ head of innovation.

“In the future, I envisage a fleet of robots working side-by-side with our people offering a truly seamless travel experience.”

​Andrei Danescu, founder of BotsAndUs, added: “The trial will pave the way for other new and interesting services we can provide to improve the customer journey as we work together to re-imagine the airport experience.”

This year, the UK flag carrier has installed 80 automated check-in machines and 80 automated bag-drop machines at Terminal 5. It has also rolled out self-boarding technology at every international gate at Terminal 5.

News of the robots comes as British Airways was named the second worst airline in an annual ranking by Which? Travel.

The results were revealed in Which? Travel’s annual airline survey, which rates airlines based on the experiences of 6,500 holidaymakers.

The UK British flag carrier, which just four years ago was named the best short-haul airline, was rated the second worst long-haul airline behind American Airlines, and third worst short-haul brand following Ryanair and Vueling.

Its customer satisfaction score was just 55 per cent, only 11 per cent higher than Ryanair.

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