Swedish robotics startup Furhat Robotics has announced a partnership with Deutsche Bahn and Fraport and is launching FRAnny, a social robot to assist international travelers at Frankfurt Airport. Under this partnership, DB Systel – the technology arm of DB, is developing a transportation robot concierge, with Airports as it’s first home. The trial has been running for four weeks, during which, studied and evaluation on the readiness of the product and interaction experience with travellers will be evaluated, in order to scale the project internationally.
”We believe our social robot Furhat is much better at answering questions like flight departure times or the nearest accessible restrooms”
FRAnny – The Robot Concierge
Powering Franny, as the robot is called, is an operating system developed by Furhat Robotics, a platform in which developers can build skills and interactions tailored to specific scenarios. These wide range of applications can be designed for industries such as healthcare, education, therapy and now customer service. This is one of the early trials of partnering with market leaders in bringing social robotic applications to real world environments.
“We believe our social robot Furhat is much better at answering questions like flight departure times or the nearest accessible restrooms than the information screens or signs you usually find at airports. Being able to interact with international travelers in multiple languages is one of the most ambitious attempts to use social robots to date, and we are very excited to see our technology being used and tested in this partnership”, says Samer Al Moubayed, CEO Furhat Robotics.
Franny, will initially speak in English and German at launch with more languages to be added over time. According to Al Moubayed, “An airport is a unique environment with people from all over the world, who might not speak or even read the local language. This is where Furhat shines because it has the potential to talk to travellers in over 35 languages.”
The Robot Project
The project is a collaboration between Furhat Robotics and DB Systel, the digital innovation arm of Deutsche Bahn, and is an exploration into the travel experience of the future. As the world’s first fully autonomous robot service point at an airport, the goal is to deliver persistent and long term value in a public space. Kais Samkari, Project Lead at DB Systel states, “At DB, our aim is to develop the next generation of traveler services and in Furhat, we have a partner at the cutting edge of robotics. This is no gimmick, it’s a real-world test to see if a robot can actually make life easier for people transiting through airports.”
For Furhat, this project presents one of the most ambitious and sophisticated trials of the technology. Putting a social robot in a very dynamic, fast paced, and multicultural environment such as an Airport is very challenging. This project is a great test for how robust and engaging Furhat is, and will be a very rich source of feedback on how to further develop the robot to its full potential as a user interface in airports and other transportation centers.