Self-driving robot trialled at Frankfurt Airport

YAPE, a self-driving transport robot, helped passengers carry small luggage and navigate through Frankfurt Airport’s terminals.

In a recent trial lasting five days at Frankfurt Airport, a self-driving guide robot named YAPE has been accompanying passengers to their gates and helping them transport their small luggage.

“As a leader in innovation, we constantly strive to push forward new digital technologies aimed at enhancing the travel experience for our passengers,” said Alexander Laukenmann, who heads the Airside and Terminal Management unit at Fraport AG. “Our aim with YAPE is to test which aspects of artificial intelligence and robotics can help to further improve the quality of services at Frankfurt Airport.”

In this phase of the trials, a smartphone app was used to interact with the robot. Passengers placed their small luggage in the robot’s luggage compartment and let YAPE guide them to their gates. The robot is able to freely move throughout the terminal thanks to its integrated navigation system.

In the next phase the compact robot will interact autonomously with passengers.

YAPE (‘Your Autonomous Pony Express’) is an AI-based transport and delivery robot developed by Yape Srl. It can carry up to 30 kilograms at a speed of about six kilometres per hour indoors. Also, since it senses its surroundings, it is able to circumvent obstacles. Nevertheless – with more than 69 million passengers passing through Frankfurt Airport yearly – the busy terminals present a challenge for the robot.

By trialling the autonomous transport robot, Fraport has said it aims to test new ways of enhancing the passenger experience, while at the same time reducing staff workload.

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