Lost at Munich Airport? There’s a robot who’ll help you find your way

Lost at Munich Airport? There’s a robot who’ll help you find your way

MUNICH — Robots have come a long way from the voiceless hunk of metal that was R2-D2. Just ask Josie Pepper, the new humanoid robot holding down a job at Munich Airport (MUC).

Standing approximately 42 inches tall and capable of speaking perfect English, Josie is the brainchild of both Munich Airport and Lufthansa, and is currently in a testing phase at Terminal 2. In her initial deployment, she awaits passengers at the top of the ramp leading to the shuttle connecting the main terminal to the satellite building, and has been tasked with answering questions and offering directions.

Robots at airports are not a new phenomenon; Schiphol Airport rolled out Spencer the robot back in 2016 to guide KLM passengers to their departure gates, while Pepper the robot worked as a waiter at Oakland Airport in California. There were also ‘dancing’ robots designed to entertain and assist passengers at Mineta San José International Airport in 2016, and more recently, robots popped up at airports in Glasgow, Indianapolis and Edmonton to provide passenger information.

But how does Josie Pepper differ? For one thing, she’s really, REALLY smart. Her ‘brain’ contains a high-performance processor with a WLAN internet access, which creates a connection to a cloud service where speech is processed, interpreted and linked to airport data. In other words, when she speaks, she talks just like a human, answering each question on an individual basis rather than spewing out pre-defined texts. Just like a ‘real’ brain, she becomes steadily better at combining questions with the relevant information to provide more precise replies.

That’s right, you can have a full-blown conversation with a real-life talking robot! Just be sure you don’t miss your flight, robots have been known to ‘drone’ on and on.

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