KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KL) brings Spencer along to help passengers at its main hub in Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS).
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
The airline has been working with the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol’s authority to design, build, program and test its robot called “Spencer” for the past two years. Spencer worked the “shifts” from November 30 to December 4, 2015 and have the following job responsibilities:
- Assist passengers who miss connecting flights
- Assist passengers on wayfinding questions (including gate information)
- Assist passengers on with short transfers
- Assist passengers with language barriers
This first test phase did not have actual passenger interactions. The airline is scheduling the next round of testing in March 2016 with the goal to have selective functions available to passengers.
When it comes to Spencer, Michel Pozas, Vice President Customer Innovation & Care AFKL said that “The advent of robotics is, strategically, an important development, for which we have prepared and which we want to test. KLM is of the opinion that robotics will have a growing impact on air transport in the coming years. We are testing technology in several areas, to assess if and how robotics would augment our processes. These developments are wholly in line with KLM’s objectives with regard to innovation, as one of the cornerstones of strategy. At KLM, the chief purpose of robotics will probably be to offers staff and customers even better support, using innovative technology.”
The partnership between KLM and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol resulted in many innovations over the years. The airline/airport are one of the first in the industry to implement beacon technology and imbedded better wayfinding functions within KLM’s mobile application (Insight).
Spencer is the next step in improving the passenger experience by proactively managing challenges resulted from delays, transfers and wayfinding. obstacles. This might potentially reduce lineup times and agents can be trained to handle more complex passenger needs.
Additionally, airline and airport can collect data on the ways the robot interacts with passengers to better improve overall space design and flow (e.g. if Spencer spent more time assisting passengers in locating a particular gate, the airport can improve signage).
While there would be some novelty when Spencer is introduced for additional testing, robots have been playing a bigger role in assisting travellers since 2014 when Starwood rolled out Botlr at Aloft Cupertino.