British Airways to test robot helpers at Heathrow

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British Airways to test robot helpers at Heathrow

By
30 December 2019

By | 30 December 2019

Two AI-powered autonomous devices named Bill will help passengers to pass through Terminal 5

Passengers traveling through the United Kingdom’s biggest airport might soon encounter rather different members of staff.  

The country’s flag carrier — British Airways — has recently announced a trial of autonomous robots that will guide customers through Heathrow Terminal 5

Two robots called Bill will start helping customers in February — British Airways Group Created with Sketch. Two robots called Bill will start helping passengers in February — British Airways

The AI-powered robots from tech company BotsAndUs will be able to communicate in multiple languages using the latest translation technology to answer thousands of questions, including real-time flight information.

Their primary objective will be to assist passengers with less demanding inquiries which will allow the human staff to resolve more urgent issues. 

“We are always looking for new and innovative ways to use automation to help our customers enjoy a faster and smoother journey through the airport and beyond,” said Ricardo Vidal, British Airways’ head of innovation.  

“These smart robots are the latest innovation allowing us to free up our people to deal with immediate issues and offer that one-on-one service we know our customers appreciate. In the future, I envisage a fleet of robots working side-by-side with our people offering a truly seamless travel experience.”

See Bill in action

The carrier will introduce two robots in February 2020. Both will carry the name Bill after Lieutenant EH “Bill” Lawford, the captain of the world’s first scheduled international service by British Airways’ predecessor Air Transport and Travel. 

BA is investing £6.5 billion to improve customer experience

The introduction of AI-powered devices is only a part of the last stage of British Airways’ investment in airport automation. 

Over the next five years, the airline will invest £6.5 billion ($8.54 billion) to improve its customer experience. The improvements will include installation of high-speed, industry-leading Wi-Fi across the fleet, which will help the cabin crew access the latest information for customers on their devices whilst in flight.

The airline will also take delivery of 73 new aircraft, including 18 A350s, with four of the new aircraft joining the fleet before the end of the year.