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2 Jun 2021

Meet our roving robots

If you’ve walked through our airport terminal lately, you may have met our robots.

We have two sets of twins – one set both named Pepper and the other both named NAO. They are members of our team of humanoid robots and live in our Digital Innovation Zone on the first floor, but definitely like to be out and about interacting with visitors.

Their ‘minder’ often takes them for a walk in the terminal so they can chat with people, answer questions, play games, read stories, pose for photos (they’re always up for a selfie)… and dance!

One of our Pepper robots works in what is known as the ‘red pathway’ helping people who arrive from overseas on their way to managed isolation and quarantine (MiQ). That Pepper welcomes the arriving passengers, explains why they’re not in any public parts of the terminal and why the only people they can see are from their flight. It also talks them through the transit process before they are taken through a back door of the terminal, to a bus which is waiting on the tarmac for transport to their MiQ accommodation.

To keep everyone safe, that Pepper robot works only in the ‘red pathway’, but its twin works in the ‘green’ general public areas.

We’ve also had school groups and other young robot fans come to visit recently. Groups of children from neighbouring Harewood School have come to help us work out more of what robots can do to assist our passengers. The children found the robots very useful for answering questions and helping people find their way around – not to mention being up for fun and a bit of mischief.

But their top recommendation was “The next time you see the robots, ask them to dance for you, or with you!”