This robot guides travelers around a busy airport

Seeing as how the busiest travel season of the year is now in full swing, it would be the perfect time to debut a robotic airport guide to help direct tired and stressed out travelers. That's exactly what Örebro University is doing as part of their research with Spencer the robot at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport. The international hub is known to have a terminal layout that is confusing to navigate, so the robot, outfitted with detailed maps, aims to help passengers get to the right place in time for their flight.

Örebro University project leader Achim Lilienthal explains that the goal is to have Spencer be smart enough to navigate temporary obstructions, like parked luggage trolleys or large groups of people. It's difficult to know how long these obstructions will last or be in a specific spot, which in turn makes it harder for the robot to identify its own location.

Along with navigation maps, Spencer features eyes with laser range-finding capability that help it know where to go, as well as identify groups of humans. Not only has the robot been taught not to crash into a group of people and go around, but it will check on its followers to make sure they haven't been left behind.

"This technology can be used in all robots intended to interact with humans. Autonomous trucks for example, would be more widely accepted if they functioned better in their interaction with humans," Lilienthal added.

Spencer will be on duty at the airport starting Monday, November 30th, but only for a one-week trail period. After researchers study the results and work on improvements, the robot will officially begin work in March.

SOURCE AlphaGalileo