Wouldn’t it be nice to have a cute little robot to tote your carry-on around the airport and to the gate?
KLM is testing that idea out with its prototype self-driving cart – called KLM Care-E – that is designed to escort a passenger through the airport and carry their luggage for them.
The airline will be testing this out at JFK and SFO this summer, drawing stares and collecting data on autonomous technology at airports along the way.
KLM says the units will use non-verbal sounds to greet passengers after security and somehow prompt them to scan their ticket barcodes.
Then the unit will use GPS data to navigate through the terminal to their gate and – somehow – understand if a passenger wants to stop at a shop, restaurant or restroom along the way.
(Will the cute little blue cart wait outside the restroom with your stuff or try to go with you into the stall? That’s my first question..)
KLM says Care-E will move at 3 mph (the average human walking pace) and is designed to know if there’s a boarding gate change.
“We wanted to surprise our customers with an airport concept that was an extension of our friendly, smiling staff,” said Boet Kreiken, Executive Vice President Customer Experience at KLM. “We have the ambition to revolutionize the delivery of care through the power of existing innovations and move diagnostics from the laboratory to where our customer really is. ”
KLM worked with product development firm 10xBeta to create these e-carts, which are scheduled for 2-day long trials at JFK and SFO in July and August.
Sadly, KLM says it is only testing the interaction between machines and humans and has no plans to roll out permanent or additional Care-E carts anytime soon.
I miss the little carts already!