Travelers to or passing through Incheon International Airport in South Korea will reportedly begin seeing A.I.-driven robot assistants at the airport as early as June of 2018. That's according to an announcement made on September 14 by LG CNS and LG Electronics. A total of 14 of the bots will be put in place to cover a range of tasks from counting airport guests waiting to pass through customs and directing flyers to the airports various services and facilities. The idea is to give travelers a better idea of how long they can expect to wait, assist them in finding out where their luggage will come out or to gates associated with specific flights, as well as helping them find what they need while they wait.
As to the robots themselves, those will be built by LG Electronics and LG CNS will provide the underlying communications systems linking them to what will effectively be the airport's Internet of Things (IoT) so that they can accomplish the above-mentioned tasks with some level of accuracy. LG CNS will also bear the responsibility for both monitoring and control of the robots, which will be accomplished by connecting its own robot service platform to those other systems. The ultimate goal of the partnership is to push the technology and strengthen the system itself so that it can be expanded later into other major air travel centers across Europe and the Middle East. According to LG CNS' vice president of the Internet of Things (IoT), the point is also to "optimize" the system for airport environments and "aggressively develop the AI-powered robot service market" in conjunction with IoT so that it can be readily adjusted to suit "various" other industries as well.
Although the partnership isn't expecting to be fully integrated until the middle of next year, the companies also announced that a test run would take place during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018. That means anybody visiting the games may be able to get a glimpse of what the bots may be capable of as early as February of next year. This is, of course, not the only ongoing attempt by any company to push for expansion of these technologies. Sprint and Softbank are currently working on a completely different model for bringing similar assistants to the U.S., for example. However, this particular deal appears to be much more focused, which could be more beneficial than that other, less directed approach.