MIAMI — On October 25th, Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC), “Silicon Valley’s Airport”, introduced new customer service robots to their airport. SJC is following in the footsteps of Amsterdam-Schipol (AMS), Tokyo-Haneda (HND), and Edmonton (YEG) as the only airports in the world to offer artificial intelligence to assist travelers.
SJC is the first airport within the United States to offer such an amenity.
The robots, built by the South Korean based, Future Robot, feature FURO technology. Each robot is shaped to mimic the likeness of a human, with a 32” touchscreen display. It’s FURO-Sense technology has a camera which senses the user’s eyes, and maintains eye contact throughout the experience. In addition, it can express emotion to comfort the traveler.
22 Miles, a Silicon Valley based company, made the software to help travelers
It features six languages: English, Spanish, French, Japanese, Mandarin, and German—representing the most widely spoken languages in SJC’s eight international destinations. They help guide passengers to their gates or to concessions within the terminal. The robots can dance with travelers, and even take pictures of them at the airport, which can be emailed to them at home.
SJC aptly named these three “female” robots after notable aviation figures: Norma for Norman Y. Mineta, the namesake for the airport, former Mayor of San Jose, and Secretary of Transportation, famous for closing United States airspace after the September 11th attacks; Amelia for female aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean; and Piper for Piper Aircraft.
Being Silicon Valley’s Airport, SJC wanted to embrace the tech culture that surrounds the area, and appeal to the “tech aficionados” by implementing more technology into the airport.
“Our robots offer travelers who are arriving and departing through Silicon Valley’s airport with an iconic experience reflecting our region’s unique culture of innovation,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “This is also another example of how we’re partnering with the private sector through our Smart City Vision to demonstrate new technologies that can help shape the way we live, work, play, and travel.”
In May, when British Airways launched their new non-stop service to SJC, Aisle 411 tested their app using Google’s Project Tango software within the airport. It provides pop-up and interactive signage for people to help travelers.
2016 was a record year for SJC. The airport crossed the 10 million passenger mark for the first time in nine years by adding four new international destinations (London, Vancouver, Frankfurt, and Shanghai). This doubled the number of international destinations available to travelers using the airport. To cope with the growing demand, the airport is currently renovating and expanding their FIS facilities, which will hopefully also bring more international traffic to the Tech Capital of the World.
The three robots will be stationed at gates 11, 21, and 25. Travelers can use #SJCRobots to share their pictures on social media with the new robots.