July 17, 2014 7:18 pm

Edmonton airport testing out customer service robots

Watch above: Edmonton’s growing airport is adding a pair of unique customer service representatives. Fletcher Kent explains.

EDMONTON —  A future filled with robots could be coming to Edmonton.

The Edmonton International Airport (EIA) is trying out a high-tech kind of help that’s a cross between a customer service agent and a digital kiosk.

The customer service robots are the first of their kind in Canada. They’re designed to interact with people, as well as detect and display emotions.

Story continues below

“The cool part about the robot is it’s mobile so it can actually move to you. We have info booths, which are great. We have wonderful volunteers, who walk around and help folks a lot. But the robot would extend our reach,” said  EIA spokesperson Heather Hamilton.

The robots can not only give you directions, but actually take you where you need to go. And they have the potential to do so in 30 different languages.

“Let’s say you do ask it a question in Chinese, or you ask it in English, it is going to respond to you,” said Amrit Sagoo of Synced Media, the company behind the creation.

The robots were showcased Thursday morning at the airport, where they were met with curiosity but also some slight apprehension.

“Sort of reminds me of those…where they take over the world,” said Pyper Rehm.

Her mom thought it’d be useful to have the robots around, especially considering the family had trouble finding the security line at the Calgary airport earlier.

“An airport can be an intimidating place if you’re not a regular traveller, or if you’re just coming into a city you haven’t been in before,” Hamilton acknowledged. “So something that has that coolness factor or is more approachable is definitely a selling feature.”

There’s no guarantee that the robots will become full-time members at EIA. They’ll be tested out at K-Days over the course of the fair; after that, EIA will decide whether it wants to purchase them based on the public’s response to them.

The robots were last used on the Oscars’ red carpet. Sagoo believes there’s also potential for them to be used in shopping centres, and eventually, the restaurant business.


With files from Fletcher Kent and Slav Kornik, Global News

© Shaw Media, 2014

Report an error

Comments