Have you ever been hopelessly lost in an unfamiliar airport? In Japan, robots will soon be there to help you.

Last month, Tokyo’s Haneda Airport ran the first two proof-of-concept phases for a fleet of bilingual assistance robots to help travelers in their busiest terminal.

Electronics company Hitachi created the roughly 3-foot-tall robot to help passengers navigate their way through the busy airport. They were initially placed in Terminal 2 (which is for domestic flights), close to one of the airport’s information boards and answered travelers’ questions, showing them maps and images of the terminals.

The final phase, set to launch this December, will see the robots guiding passengers requesting help through the terminal to where they want to go, like their departure gate or a gift shop.

The robot, named EMIEW3, has been in development for 11 years — and the work shows. The humanoid robot can interact with travelers in both Japanese and English (using over a dozen microphones to hear a single person in a crowded airport), as well as expertly navigate on rollerskate-like feet. It can even pick itself up if it’s knocked down.

The operating system for the EMIEW3 robots allows them to not only function individually in helping airport guests, but also work together, with a stationary desk robot passing off a traveler in need of assistance to a mobile EMIEW3 to show the way. Hitachi developers have even designed a system where adrift air travelers don’t even need to ask for help. An EMIEW3 will be alerted to people who’ve been standing motionless for sustained periods of time and approach them to offer assistance.

Haneda Airport is the perfect launchpad for such a test, as it sees many fliers stopping in on layovers and needing assistance navigating the unfamiliar airport.

Japan is no stranger to implementing cutting-edge technology into consumer-facing business: Last year the city of Nagasaki saw the opening of the first hotel staffed by robots, ditching hotel keys for face recognition technology.

The future is now! *Books flight to Tokyo*.

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About The Author

Mary Zakheim
Content Writer

When she is not figuring out what the middle button on her headphones is for, explaining the difference between Washington State and Washington D.C., arriving to the airport too early or refusing to use the Oxford comma, you can usually find Mary in the mountains, at a show or on her couch. Mary is a content writer at Fareportal and likes annoying her coworkers with weird GIFs throughout the day.