Leading airport companies in robotics

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The future of the travel and tourism industry will be shaped by a range of disruptive themes, with robotics being one of the themes that will have a significant impact on airport companies.     

Robotics, or robotic process automation (RPA), is the application of technology that allows employees in a company to configure computer software, or a ‘robot’, to capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses, and communicating with other digital systems.  

The deployment of robotics lessens the chance of contracting Covid-19 for travellers, for example, by limiting the frequency of human interaction between staff and guests. As a result, robots are now becoming less of a gimmick and more of a necessity for hotel companies looking to inspire traveller confidence.

For businesses, investment in robotics to replace human jobs will help to boost bottom lines in the long term. Although the initial cost of investing in robotics will be high, many companies will make back what they have invested in just a few years, then after that, companies will continue to shrink fixed costs and increase profit margins. 

However, not all companies are equal when it comes to their capabilities and investments in the key themes that matter most to their industry. Understanding how companies are positioned and ranked in the most important themes can be a key leading indicator of their future earnings potential and relative competitive position.      

According to GlobalData’s thematic research report called 'Robotics in Travel and Tourism', leading adopters include: Dubai Airports Company, Group ADP, Shenzhen Airport Company Ltd, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Vinci , Flughafen Zurich, GMR Group, and Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport.  

Insights from top ranked companies     

Dubai Airports Company

Dubai Airports Company has deployed several different robots to improve tourist experiences and enhance safety. Stationed at arrivals, security robots utilise facial recognition, X-ray scanning, and thermal vision to identify people of interest that could be deemed a security threat.

The robots gather data from these features and compile it into a threat assessment, then pass it onto the control room if necessary. The company is also using robotics to ease traveller concerns during the pandemic. Informational service robot ‘Rahal’ welcomes travellers and explains the most up-to-date health and safety measures that are currently in place. 

Shenzhen Airport Company 

Shenzhen Airport Company was an early adopter of utilising robotics for security purposes. In 2016, Shenzhen Airport deployed a robot that could react to security emergencies around the clock. With four digital cameras, the security robot is capable of autonomous patrols, intelligent monitoring, and auto-recharging.

Additionally, it can answer passengers’ questions regarding flight information and will communicate with travellers in different languages. In the same year, sixteen customer-service robots were deployed in the airport by Shenzhen Airlines , with the primary purpose of enhancing customer service. 

Groupe ADP 

Groupe ADP’s (formerly Aéroports De Paris) Innovation Hub is working on implementing robotic assistance for different tasks, whether industrial or commercial. The group’s innovation team set up a conference about the collaboration between humans and robots and launched a project for considering opportunities to use robots in airport facilities.

The group also uses Stanley Robotics for its valet robot. The robot collects the traveller’s car at the airport car park and parks it for them. The robot also knows when each customers’ return flight is due and will have their car waiting for them in the designated pickup area.