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NEWS Last modified on November 27, 2015

Amsterdam Schiphol's Spencer to become the latest airport robot

What have 'Robbi', 'Ray' and 'Spencer' all got in common? Well, they are all robots and they all work at airports!

The newest addition is 'Spencer' (pictured above), who from Monday will be found wandering around the terminals at Amsterdam Schiphol looking for passengers in need of help finding their way around.

Like 'Robbi' at Geneva Airport, and looking a bit like 'Brian' from Confused.com altough he cannot talk, Spencer is basically designed to help get passengers to their gates in time and reduce the number of travellers who get lost en route to the gate.

The brainchild of KLM and built by university and corporate researchers from France, Germany, Holland, Sweden and Switzerland, Spencer boasts technology that includes 2D laser cameras, five onboard computers and a variety of sensors.rendereddemoscenario
If he is successful during next week's trial, he is expected to come back on a permanent basis in March 2016.

Spencer is essentially a new and improved version of Geneva's Robbi who made his debut at the gateway a couple of years ago.
Talking about Robbi during the Air Transport IT Summit in Brussels earlier this year, Geneva Airport’s innovation manager for airport IT, Gilles Brentini, admitted that some people loved it while others hated it!

Its robot is actually a mobile information screen designed by Bluebotics that automatically moves around the airport providing information and directing passengers to where they want to go – sometimes literally by taking them there.

He noted that the information supplied by Robbi could be regularly updated to incorporate the latest commercial offerings/promotions provided by the airport’s shops and F&B outlets.

And Robbi and Spencer are not alone in what is becoming an increasingly sci-fi world at airports as Düsseldorf has its own Ray the robot, who in effect is a high-tech valet that parks your car for you!

On arrival, all travellers need to do is leave their car in a designated area at the German gateway and confirm it is empty and ready to go before Ray or one of its cybernetic colleagues will then take the car to one of 249 parking spaces reserved for robots in a dedicated area.

The forklift-like machine can carry any standard car weighing up to three metric tonnes (3.31 tonnes) and is fully insured.

To use the service travellers will have to pay a fee of around €30 day. According to the airport, the high-tech service is primarily targeted at busy business travellers.


• Spencer image credit: LASS Laboratoire



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