The new addition is part of a co-operative project between airport operator, Fraport AG, and DB Systel GmbH, Deutsche Bahn’s dedicated IT service provider.
According to Fraport, FRAnny is an expert on Frankfurt Airport and is able to answer a wide range of questions rangng from identifying the correct gate for airline departures, directing the way to a specific restaurant, and how to access the free Wi-Fi.
And it does it all with a smile and the simple statement, "My name is FRAnny. How can I help you?”
The airport explains: "Travellers at major transportation hubs, such as airports and train stations, are very often in need of guidance.
"In these scenarios, digital assistants and robots can support human personnel by fielding routineinquiries, thus enhancing the customer service offering. A six-week trial at Frankfurt Airport, Germany’s largest aviation hub, will help evaluate FRAnny in terms of functionality, customer acceptance and its practical usefulness in everyday situations."
Fraport reveals that FRAnny is based on an artificial intelligence and a cloud-based voice-user interface (VUI) that can be deployed in a variety of forms – including in chatbots, voice assistants and robots.
This digital customer service system, it says, was developed by a team of Deutsche Bahn IT experts and using data drawn from the airport’s information system, FRanny is able to understand and answer questions relating to travel, airport facilities and more.
In addition to providing flight information, FRAnny is well versed in small talk and can communicate in German, English and seven other languages.
Fraport and Deutsche Bahn have been jointly exploring the potential of artificially intelligent, voice-based customer service systems since 2017.
Frankfurt Airport's confidence in the success of FRanny is partially based on last year's trials of an earlier version, where 75% of 4,400 passengers to engage with it rated their exchange positively.
Based on the feedback received, both the artificial intelligence (AI) component and the robot’s user interface have been enhanced.
"The more recent trial underscores both companies’ commitment to ongoing innovation in artificial intelligence and robotics," says Fraport.
"Moreover, it puts the implemented improvements through their paces under real-world conditions.
The AI-based service is to be tested at Berlin central rail station in June – which has approximately 300,000 travellers and visitors every day.