The device can scan the traveller’s biometrics while a passport scanning slot captures other key details. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Meet Sarah, Dubai carrier Emirates’ brand new check-in robot. Launched at ForsaTEK on Thursday, the first edition of the airline’s innovation forum, Sarah, a portable intelligent device, will be placed near check-in counters at the Emirates terminal at Dubai International Airport.

Locally-developed Sarah can speak five to seven languages, including Arabic.

Video: Ahmed Ramzan | Editing: Irish Belleza | Reporting: Dhanusha Gokulan

Emirates’ Chief Operating Officer Adel Al Redha said: “I think we are the first airline globally to introduce or plan to introduce a portable check-in robot. The robot can complete the passenger’s check-in processes, including issuing a boarding pass, which will be sent to the travellers’ registered mobile number or e-mail.”

Al Redha said once the pilot programme is rolled out, the airline plans to deploy at least 200 of these check-in robots in the coming years.

“The devices will be placed at the airport and the airside,” he added.

Al Redha said the device can scan the traveller’s biometrics while a passport scanning slot captures other key details. “So, you can go through passport control, then you can go through the boarding gate or lounges without showing your documentation anymore,” said Al Redha.

“The one on display (at ForsaTEK) is fully functional and available. Currently, we are waiting for the volume of units (manufacturing) to be completed. It will be deployed at the airport in a couple of months,” he added.

Al Redha said more such AI-driven devices would be placed on the airside of the airport for transit passengers. “It will be helpful for passengers who are in transit. They can get their new boarding passes using these devices. They will not need to go to airline staff, for example. We will be improving the service to link it with immigration services to ensure that travellers have the right entry permits and visas, or if you have a hotel booking, or give you the information in case you want to make some hotel bookings,” he added.

Al Redha did not reveal the cost of developing the new device.

“The number of passengers using Dubai airports is only increasing daily. We cannot make the airport any bigger. However, we can improve passenger processes with devices like these and AI and robotics.”

The airline COO also discussed the possibility of applying ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence-driven chatbots to make services easier for Emirates passengers.

In 2021, Dubai airport deployed several integrated biometric contactless pathways at Terminal 3. Utilising the latest biometric technology — facial and iris recognition — passengers can check in for their flight, complete immigration formalities, enter the lounge facilities, and board their flights by strolling through the airport.

“The biometric gates were launched in a limited capacity on trial. The trials were successful, and over time, we’ve been increasing the use of these elements to enhance customer experience at the airport,” he added.