Travelers passing through San Jose’s international airport are going to get a unique customer service experience from some new staff being brought on board: robots.
The first robots to be deployed at a U.S. airport -- Norma, Amelia and Piper, as they’re named (they also have a hashtag, #SJCRobots) -- have avatar-friendly faces and “are engaging and entertaining” visitors while helping them find dining, shopping and other services, Mineta San Jose International Airport said in a statement.
The robots, which bear a 32-inch touch screen, display information in six languages and provide an interactive map and directory of the airport. It’s not all serious business, though: They dance, play music and take photos that can be sent to visitors by email or even displayed on the robot’s face. They are personable, too, referring to a colleague as a "co-worker friend."
“Our #SJCRobots offer travelers who are arriving and departing through Silicon Valley's airport with an iconic experience reflecting our region's unique culture of innovation,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said.
The robots made their debut on Tuesday. The $120,000 robot program was paid for by airport concessionaires -- Hudson News Group, Pacific Gateway Concessions and HMSHost -- through the concessions marketing fund. South Korea-based Future Robot designed the robots, and 22 Miles in Milpitas programmed them to interact with travelers.
Other airports outside the U.S. have similar customer service agent robots, such as Narita in Tokyo, Edmonton in Alberta and Schiphol in Amsterdam.