Dubai: How tech is easing check-in procedures at DXB

Emirates’ AI-powered robot helps travellers breeze through check-in counters

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Nasreen Abdulla

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Photos: Neeraj Murali/KT
Photos: Neeraj Murali/KT

Published: Sun 24 Dec 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 24 Dec 2023, 10:42 PM

At least 50 percent of Emirates travellers opt to go through the airline’s self-check-in systems or use Sara, the world’s first robotic check-in system.

Adel Al Redha, chief operations officer of Emirates, said: “The simpler and more reliable a system is, the more confident people are to use it. Like online shopping or booking airline tickets, once people are more confident to use it, they continue using it.”

Al Redha was speaking at a recent media roundtable after the opening of the Emirates innovation centre Ebdaa at Expo City Dubai. He said the centre will become a template on which the future will be built.

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“We want to export initiatives from Dubai. So, this centre is an open platform to work with every entity that has something to offer in regard to improving efficiency, sustainability, deploying of technology,” he explained.

Adel Al Redha, chief operations officer of Emirates. Photo: Supplied
Adel Al Redha, chief operations officer of Emirates. Photo: Supplied

The centre is home to an aviation robotics lab that has been built in collaboration with Dubai Future Labs and other global leaders in robotics.

It houses yet another world first — an AI-powered customer support robot developed in-house. With an aim to be inclusive, Sara, the robot also supports sign language, giving a glimpse of the future of customer-robot interactions.

Innovations

Al Redha noted Emirates has been continuously investing in technology and gave the example of how the team has been working with Department of Naturalisation and Residency Dubai (DNRD).

He said: “The last few months we've been working with our partners at the airport to install the biometric path. I can say with confidence that it is the only path that have been developed at this level of accuracy globally. The units are able to pick up an individual's data without you having to stare at something or look in a specific angle.”

He explained how customers can just walk in and the system will recognise them. “Your physical appearance gets compared with stored data to process in a very efficient manner,” he said. “Your path through the airport, your path through the various touch points within the airline- whether it is accessibility to the lounge, to boarding the aircraft- is mapped. That came through a collaboration between us and the various team and the various suppliers. It involved taking an idea, taking a vision and trying to really see how we can transform it into a reality.”

Immersive technology

According to Al Redha, Emirates is also using its immersive technology to further introduce its future employees to Dubai. “When we have a new employee from outside who has never visited Dubai, who doesn't know what to expect in Dubai, they will be able to explore Dubai in real time to get a feel of the different places, understand the accommodation that he might be living in, and understand the airport environment when he arrives,” he said.

“This is going to give comfort to people and is going to make them much more familiar with the area before they come in.”

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