Not everyone is amazingly orientated in space and sometimes even people with the ability to analyze and correctly understand its position in space can get confused in a highly populated airport. No matter how well you know an airport, there are so many unpredictable road blockages either you encounter large groups of people or parked luggage trolleys and have to think fast about another way to get to your gate. Or if you find yourself for the first time in an international airport, you are going to have a hard time to find your way. Unfortunately, we are not born with a navigation system in our heads.
Because of passengers constantly losing their flights over the fact that they got lost the Dutch airline KLM had a futuristic initiative in mind that the European Commission and other five major businesses from different countries decided to fund. A robot named “Spencer” was built to become a performant navigation system in an airport, analyzing in real time if there are any blocked passages and giving the best and fastest route towards a gate.
Spencer was developed by researchers at Örebro University Sweden and will start its test run on 30 November at the major international airport Schiphol in Amsterdam. The robot has a cute design and a face to help people connect to Spencer easily and besides basic maps of the airport which are uploaded into its memory, the navigation system robot is also equipped with laser beams that help measure the distance between Spencer and its surroundings.
The trickiest part is how Spencer deals with moving people, as it is programmed to recognize and calculate ways of getting to a designated destination without being confused by the constant stream of people moving around. Of course, researchers are expecting to encounter a lot of errors at first, because there are so many unpredictable variables that Spencer needs to be able to assess, but they also know that the cute robot can constantly be updated with unpredictable facts that will help it develop better calculations.
After the test run at the end of November and all the adjustments that researchers can possibly make, Spencer will be officially launched in March 2016 and if it is successful, we might see it all around major airports.