During a start-up souq held at its headquarters on Thursday, Emirates group introduced the world’s first robotic check-in system.

Described by the group’s COO Adel Al Redha as a “one-of-its-kind” robot, Sara can speak at least six languages, is portable and can help with a lot more than just check-in.

At the event, Khaleej Times got a first-hand look into how the system, which will be rolled out in the next few months, works. Here's a step-by-step explanation on how the system works.

Step 1
Scan the passport

Step 2
The system then requests the traveller to stand in position with their face in the centre of a square indicated on its screen. This is to match the facial features with that on the passport.

Step 3
The existing ticket booking is matched to the passport. Sara also gives additional information required by the traveller. “Your flight is scheduled to depart in three hours. It is currently scattered clouds and 27 degrees in Bahrain. If your details are correct, shall I proceed with check-in?” The system asked during the demonstration.

Step 4
The traveller can either click the check-In button on the screen or verbally give a command.

Step 5
Check-in is complete. At this point, the boarding pass is emailed to the traveller or sent to the registered mobile number.

After this, the traveller can proceed to a baggage counter. According to the developers of Sara, there is an option for travellers to also print out their boarding passes as well as their baggage tags on the system.

According to Emirates, they are the first airline in the world to introduce such a robot. Over 200 of them will be used in airports over the next two years.

Future Plans
As per the robotics team demonstrating the system, Sara can be programmed to do much more than just check in. “It is portable,” said a spokesperson. “

"So, it will be especially useful for tourists and transit passengers who are unfamiliar with the airport. For example, if someone is a transit passenger and they need to find out where the gate for their connecting flight is. They can approach the robot and it will immediately pull up their ticket details. It will then ask the passenger to follow it and guide them to the gate in the shortest possible way. It will be almost like having their own personal concierge.”

During a media round table, Al Redha said that the possibilities for Sara are endless. “We will be improving and taking it to a higher level where it will be able to link it with the immigration to establish whether you have got the right entry permits and visas,” he said.

“If you have a hotel booking, it can give you the information or if you want to make a hotel booking, you'll be able to do that with the system. So, we'll be taking it to a step higher.”

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