UAE: Emirates announces world's first-ever robotic check-in system at airports

According to a spokesperson, over 200 of these systems will be functional in airports across the city over the next few years

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Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Thu 9 Mar 2023, 11:34 AM

Last updated: Thu 9 Mar 2023, 9:31 PM

A portable robotic check-in system will be introduced by Emirates at airports in the country this year. In what is claimed to be a world-first, the system- called Sara- will speak at least six languages and help in everything from check-in to hotel bookings.

“We are the first airline globally that have introduced a portable check-in robot,” said Emirates COO, Adel Al Redha during a media round table. “It has not been done in any airport in the world. We will be the first one to use that robot that can complete all checking processes, including issuing a boarding pass that will be sent to your registered number or emails. So it's one of its kind that we will be introducing it soon.”

Developed by Emirates in collaboration with their partners, the robotic check-in system is a fully locally produced machine including its hardware and software. According to Al Redha, over 200 of these systems will be functional in airports across the city over the next few years with the first ones expected to be rolled out in the next few months. “It is fully functional and available for use immediately,” he said. “We're just waiting for the volume of the units to be completed.”

Extremely helpful

Sara will be extremely useful at the airports, especially for transit passengers, says Al Redha. “It will be quite helpful during disruption or changing of flight,” he said. “You don't need to go to an agent. You just go to this unit, and it does the whole thing.”

Over the next few years, Sara will be upgraded using AI from being just a check-in system. “In fact, we will be improving and taking to a higher level where it will be able to link it with the immigration to establish whether you have got the right entry permits and visas,” said Al Redha. “If you have a hotel booking, it can give you the information or if you want to make a hotel booking, you'll be able to do that with the system. So we'll be taking it to a step higher than just a check-in robot.”

Sara was introduced during the first edition of ForsaTEK, an annual event and a platform that brings together high-profile tech and industry partners, start-ups and key players in the aviation industry.

Being held on March 9 -10 at Emirates Group, ForsaTEK is themed around aviation, travel and tourism and is envisioned as a platform that will showcase the future of travel through entrepreneurship and innovation, fostering, collaboration, encouraging incubator communities and driving thought-provoking ideas.

Development of existing tech

According to Al Redha, considering the advancements made in AI, the use of it, along with other technology, will triple over the next two years. “We will see more such deployments not just with Emirates but with other companies, I am sure,” he said.

He also revealed that using biometrics and other modern technology has helped the airline optimise its operations, especially during peak travel times. “We have introduced the biometric registration and self-check-in,” he said. “[This has] reduced the number of counters we need at the check-in [and] the number of staffing you need to process a flight at the boarding area. We managed to gain close to about 30% of the number of staffing required using the biometric processing versus non-biometric machines or gate.”

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