When you’re ready to move, you place your carry-on luggage (up to 85 pounds!) on the robot’s carrying deck. It will then move alongside and slightly ahead of you, walking you to your gate at up to three miles per hour (a typical pace for non-frantic, on-time human travelers). If you’re lucky enough to have some time on your hands, you can even request your Care-E guide you to grab a cocktail, hit up the bathroom, or find a specific shop. It’ll keep tabs on the time for you and alert you when it’s time to board.
KLM has long taken a progressive approach to using technology to streamline the travel experience. Most notably, the brand trialed an android called Spencer at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. Building on experience with human-like robots, the company has incorporated a personality into each Care-E robot. If you’re taking too long in transit to your gate, for example, the robot may fall asleep or act bored. It can also whistle or hum while it guides you, and may even act sad when it’s time to see you off.
The Care-E initiative is currently undergoing testing before its mainstream debut. KLM plans to launch the first airport robots in San Francisco (SFO) and New York (JFK) later this year. The brand has hinted that they have no plans for a nationwide domestic roll-out. For now, it’s merely a proof of concept to demonstrate how robots could fit into the future of air travel.