The KLM airport robot Care-E wants you to take the load off
This cute little luggage robot seems to come straight out of Wall-E
Are you the type of person to pack five suitcases for a week long trip to the Bahamas? Do you hate having to lug around all your stuff in the airport when you travel, just for people to judge? Well, the aim of this smart robot is to fix all of your, well, high maintenance problems.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is testing out its "Care-E" smart robot — a self-driving airport trolley to hold all your luggage. Even though this cute little blue dude can't communicate with you like Wall-E or Eve, it will make a series of sounds to let you know what it's doing. From demos, the robot appears to have a top screen with two big eyes that can blink, appear sad or even happy. It also chirps, and even says "uh oh" if you accidentally leave something behind on its cart as you start to walk away.
First, Care-E will scan your boarding pass — then, just load up your baggage and walk around without your things weighing you down. The smart trolley can hold up to 85 pounds of luggage and will keep up with you at a rate of 3 mph. All of this will also happen after security, so they won't clog up and slow down lines.
Care-E can even pause, and stop if you need a bathroom or shopping break before you get to check in or your gate. The robot can also notify you of any gate or time changes. Your blue friend also has a LiDAR sensor array, the ability for 2D mapping and eight Ultrasonic Rangefinders — much of the tech is used to prevent collisions and to keep the smart trolley safe, too.
KLM has been running trials all summer — however, they reportedly failed to show up at a Brooklyn event, raising concerns about how well the prototype actually works.
Care-E can scan your boarding pass, carry your luggage and roll with you to your gateKLM
Care-E may seem innovative and new, but airports have been testing robots inside airports for more than a year: Both NYC's LaGuardia and Seoul's Incheon have worked with automated robots on a variety of cases. At LaGuardia, the robot is part of a security plan, capturing images as it rolls along the terminal, while the robots at Incheon airport are in play to help direct people to their gates.
You'll still probably have to rent out one of those big, clunky trollies to bring in all your check-in baggage, but Care-E is perfect for one or two carry-on bags that are just heavy enough to be annoying. The robot seems to be dedicated just to KLM airlines, and is being tested at San Francisco International Airport and NYC's John F. Kennedy Airport at the moment, but are expected to be ready for full use sometime in 2018 — just in time for the big holiday travel rush.