Will Robots Replace Border Guards At Airports?

UK border Heathrow plane - Shutterstock - © Regien Paassen

Aeroplane passengers in the future could be greeted by robot border guards instead of immigration officers

The use of robots in the future could see them replacing the traditional immigration officers that greet passengers at airports.

french engineering giant Thales revealed the new airport technologies at the Paris Air Show, designed to speed to the transit of passengers through the airport.

Passport Sir?

Thales showed off the new technology that included passengers of the future no longer having to deal with check-in desks. Instead a Thales machine scans a passports and prints boarding passes. Nothing particularly new there, as this is already an option with the online check-in option found at many airports nowadays.

But the Thales machine can also record an image of the passenger’s face and even their iris. This data is then shared with other computers around the airport.

AeroplaneThis means that when the passenger arrives at the immigration desk, their details are already in the system. According to the Associated Press, Thales demonstrated its tall, white robot, which confirms the person’s identity without the need for human border staff.

“You would only need one agent for every four or five machines,” Pascal Zenoni, a Thales manager presenting the equipment at the air show, was quoted as saying. “These systems can free up staff for the police and create more space in the airport,” he added.

And the passenger’s face is also printed in encrypted form on the boarding pass. This allows staff manning the gate to the aircraft to perform a final identity check.

Robot Future

If this Thales technology solution is taken up, it could the herald the adoption of robot technologies within the aviation industry.

Some experts are not that happy that robots could soon be playing a great part in our daily lives. Last month, Professor Stephen Hawking reiterated his warning that robots and artificial intelligence could spell the end of life as we know it on Planet Earth.

That said, American punters will be able to purchase Softbank’s ‘emotional’ robot from this weekend. The Pepper robot, is a 4 foot high robot that can dance and make human-like movements and body language thanks to more than 20 different motors and highly articulated arms.

Other firms such as Google, IBM, Honda and others are also actively exploring the robotics environment.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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