Re-opening with automation and advanced tech

Posted on in News

TECHNOLOGY: Airports and railway operators worldwide are ramping up their programmes to introduce contactless technology to help them re-open safely and maximise passenger numbers during the coronavirus pandemic.

While transport operators were increasingly adopting touchless and automated technologies before the pandemic to increase speed and efficiency, demand for these tools is increasing as routes reopen. Prioritising investments amidst a collapse in revenues will be key, however, as employers seek to cut costs and boost productivity against projected year-on-year losses of almost USD100bn for the sector.

Eurostar confirmed on 17 June that it will adopt facial recognition technology from 2021 as an alternative for passengers who want to check in without the physical transfer of passports. The technology, from biometric authentication specialist iProov, will scan a passenger’s face on arrival at a rail station to match it to a photograph provided via a smartphone in advance of the trip.

Abu Dhabi Airports is introducing touchless elevator technology for 53 elevators at Abu Dhabi International Airport, while at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, all the airport restaurants are adopting the Grab  digital ordering service to cut down on face-to-face encounters. Grab debuted its ‘virtual kiosk’ in April, a system that lets customers scan a QR code or use NFC-enabled smartphones to place an order without the need to download Grab’s app.

Another way to reduce face-to-face interactions is to replace workers for initial screenings. It is reported that South Korea’s Incheon International Airport intends to trial the use of robots to tell if passengers are wearing masks and flag those who aren’t to authorities later this year.