Frankfurt Airport (FRA) has introduced a new self-driving guide robot, called YAPE, to accompany passengers to their gates and help them transport their luggage.
The AI-based transport and delivery robot is developed by Yape Srl, a company of Italian hi-tech manufacturer e-Novia, and was deployed in FRA’s transit area for five days. During the initial phase of the trials in FRA’s Pier A Terminal 1, a smartphone app was used to interact with the robot. Passengers placed their small luggage in the robot’s luggage compartment and let YAPE guide them to their gates. Thanks to its integrated navigation system the robot is able to freely move through the terminal. According to the airport, in the next phase the robot will interact autonomously with passengers.
Alexander Laukenmann, Head of Airside and Terminal Management unit at Fraport AG, said: “As a leader in innovation, we constantly strive to push forward new digital technologies aimed at enhancing the travel experience for our passengers. Our aim with YAPE is to test which aspects of artificial intelligence and robotics can help to further improve the quality of services at Frankfurt Airport.”
Vincenzo Russi, CEO of e-Novia, also commented: “YAPE can be deployed in the most diverse environments. After the trials with Japan Post and a major large-scale distributor in the U.S., YAPE now demonstrates its full potential by operating at a major aviation hub. Air traffic represents one of the prime drivers of the global economy. With our expertise in AI and robotics – of which YAPE is one of the best examples – e-Novia is developing new solutions for smart mobility and last-mile delivery.”
YAPE can carry up to 30 kilograms at a speed of about 6 kilometres per hour indoors. Since the self-driving electric robot senses its surroundings, it is able to circumvent obstacles. By trialling the autonomous transport robot, Fraport aims to test new ways of enhancing the passenger experience, while at the same time reducing staff workload.
YAPE already demonstrated its capabilities as a dependable indoor and outdoor delivery robot in an initial field trial conducted in December 2018 by e-Novia and Japan Post. The outcome of further testing will determine whether and when YAPE will go into permanent service at Frankfurt Airport.