Dubai International Airport launches new taxi service, taxiDXB

As a result of passenger feedback, Dubai Airports has launched a new taxi service inside the terminal to assist travelling passengers.

Dubai International Airport launches new taxi service, taxiDXB

Passengers can now hail a taxi inside the terminal at Dubai International Airport, as well as outside. The new service, taxiDXB, is available to passengers in DXB’s Concourse B, and is free for travellers to use.

Launched with the aim of making the customer journey through DXB’s linear concourses easier, the fleet of 15 eight-seater buggies can now be picked up at points around the arrival and departure levels of concourse B, or, just as regular taxis, can be hailed when seen. Priority will be given to those who may find walking a challenge or have their hands full with young children, but the taxiDXB service is free for all to use and will take customers straight to their gate or one of the airport’s many restaurants and shops.

Frank McCrorie, SVP Operations at Dubai Airports, said: “The introduction of taxiDXB is in direct response to the needs of our customers. The design of DXB’s concourses is very linear, which some customers told us they found hard to manage when they have to reach a gate at the opposite end but lends itself perfectly to a closed-loop buggy service. We have operated similar services in the past, but this is entirely free for our customers and has proved very popular in the test phase.”

taxiDXB is operated by the airport’s speciall- trained customer service team, who are equipped with up-to-date flight movement information to ensure customers get to where they need to be in plenty of time. The service will be extended to DXB’s other concourses in the coming months.

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ANA becomes first airline to utilise self-service bag drop at Narita Airport

Baggage // Sep 2019

The self-service baggage drop is already available for international flights to most destinations, while North American destinations will become eligible by the end of 2019.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) has become the first airline to utilise the newly introduced automated self-service baggage drop system at Narita Airport. The first 10 Series 7 Auto Bag Drop (ABD) units developed by ICM Airport Technics are now live at Terminal 1 South Wing. The initiative is part of ANA’s mission to continue enhancing its airport service and provide a faster travel experience for passengers.

By integrating the self-service bag drop into its check-in process, ANA aims to upgrade both the domestic and international flight experience.

The self-service baggage drop is already available for international flights to most destinations, while North American destinations will become eligible by the end of 2019.

“ANA seeks to set the standard for the integration of technology that makes travel simpler and more straightforward, and the addition of these self-service baggage drop machines will have an immediate impact,” said Masaki Yokai, Senior Vice President, ANA. “This is simply the latest step that we have taken in our never-ending quest to simplify travel. We remain committed to working with airports and other partners to field test new technologies and develop solutions that improve customer service.”

Narita International Airport Corporation will eventually install the self-service baggage drops at all terminals. With the first self-service baggage drop machines debuting at Narita Airport Terminal 1 in the South Wing D zone, the company has labelled this area Smart Check-in Zone.


Aviation industry is experiencing a “demographic shift to a digital age” says new report

By Varsha Saraogi

SITA’s Passenger IT Insights 2019 report highlighted that with the current digital revolution facing the aviation industry, the way travellers interact with airports is changing and this is likely to influence aviation investments in the next six years.

Its survey proved that satisfaction is higher among tech-using passengers at every step of the journey, with a marked rise at dwell time, onboard and bag collection. It revealed that almost 55% of passengers are already using technology across their air travel journey through web, mobile apps and kiosks – a figure set to skyrocket in the coming years.

The study revealed that by 2025, 68% of travellers will come from the post-digital era – those who would have grown up interacting with technology to manage their lives – compared to 32% from the pre-digital era and, as a result, will be more responsive to artificial intelligence, IoT, and chatbots to assist them in their air travel.

Passenger expectations around air travel experience will change as future passengers will “no longer want an experience that is compartmentalised across airlines, airports, border agencies, or other stakeholders involved in their trip,” the study said.

Commenting on the digitalisation of the aviation industry, CEO of SITA Barbara Dalibard said that passengers will “expect travel to be seamless, where every step fits neatly with the next, delivered as a single, unified experience.”

She added: “Fundamental to meeting these demands is a requirement for more efficient operations and collaboration between the airlines, airports and other stakeholders responsible for delivering that experience. Without it, we will not be able to deliver the journey digital travellers demand.”

One of the key technologies to be implemented will be the use of digital IDs. The study showed that 59% of travellers today are already “very willing” to use their mobiles for ID verification along the journey, with a further 33% open to the idea. It said travellers who used self-scanning gates at passport control reported better satisfaction in its survey – 3.85% higher than those who had their ID checked by a human.

The report predicts that by 2021, over 70% of airlines would have investments planned for biometric ID solutions. In the future, aviation companies will focus on taking biometric recognition beyond a single airport “to a seamless experience across borders and airports,” it said. “The ambition is to adopt a single, persistent digital identity that is secure, recognised globally and, most importantly, allows the passenger to maintain control over that identity.”

The report stressed that implementing digital IDs will also boost airport security. “Biometric technology – along with mobile solutions and AI will be critical to creating a secure identity verification solution that everyone – from the passenger to the border agent, trusts. If this solution can be developed, it will deliver a near walkthrough experience at the airport,” it said.

Alongside using digital IDs for checks, airports – in the future – will be able to offer a seamless experience for passengers who will then be able to use these digital IDs to make mobile payments for services on demand.

The report concluded that the key technologies that will shape future tools and services available to passengers will include cloud services, 5G, biometrics and secure travel tokens, automation, chatbots and AI – and a combination of these technologies.

“To deliver the kind of streamlined experience that the digital travellers demand, multiple organisations will need to collaborate including airlines, airports, governments at the border, ground handlers and service providers in and outside the airport,” the report said.

“Sharing relevant data in a secure and timely manner, as well as reaching agreement on standards and processes, will be critical to ensuring that all stakeholders are doing what is required to deliver optimal passenger services. These initiatives will also enable the air transport community to realize the potential to grow revenues, increase throughput and reduce costs.”

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Easy rider: New in-airport taxi service has lift off at DXB

by Mark

Source: ©The Moodie Davitt Report 17 September 2019

UAE. Dubai Airports has introduced a taxi service inside DXB (Dubai International), with the aim of making it easier for passengers to navigate through the airport’s linear concourses.

Travellers can hail one of 15 eight-seater buggies when seen or taken at pick-up points around the arrivals and departures level of Concourse B.

At your service: The taxiDXB buggies can be hailed on demand or at designated pick-up points

The service – known as taxiDXB – is free of charge, with priority given to the elderly and families with young children.

Dubai Airports said that the service will be extended to DXB’s other concourses in the coming months.

taxiDXB is operated by the airport’s specially trained customer service team. They are equipped with up-to-date flight movement information to ensure passengers can get to their gates in good time.

The taxis can be used to take passengers straight to their gate, to one of the airport’s restaurants and shops or for a tour of DXB

Dubai Airports SVP Operations Frank McCrorie said: “The introduction of taxiDXB is in direct response to the needs of our customers. The design of DXB’s concourses is very linear, which some customers told us they found hard to manage when they have to reach a gate at the opposite end but lends itself perfectly to a closed-loop buggy service.”

He added: “We have operated similar services in the past, but this is entirely free for our customers and has proved very popular in the test phase.”

Gatwick Airport commits to facial recognition tech at boarding

By Leo Kelion Technology desk editor

Gatwick has become the UK’s first airport to confirm it will use facial-recognition cameras on a permanent basis for ID checks before passengers board planes.

It follows a self-boarding trial carried out in partnership with EasyJet last year.

The London airport said the technology should reduce queuing times but travellers would still need to carry passports.

Privacy campaigners are concerned.

On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Gatwick told BBC News it had taken the decision, first reported by the Telegraph newspaper, after reviewing feedback from passengers in the earlier test.

“More than 90% of those interviewed said they found the technology extremely easy to use and the trial demonstrated faster boarding of the aircraft for the airline and a significant reduction in queue time for passengers,” she said.

“Gatwick [is now planning] a second trial in the next six months and then rolling out auto-boarding technology on eight departure gates in the North Terminal when it opens a new extension to its Pier 6 departure facility in 2022.”

She added passengers would still need to pass through the bag-check security zone, at which point they would need to present a boarding pass.

Dulles Airport facial scanners
Image caption Dulles Airport, in the US, already uses facial recognition scanners to check passenger IDs

In addition, they would need to scan their passport at the departure gate for the system to be able to match the photo inside to their actual face.

The process is similar to that already used at the ePassport arrival gates at some UK airports. But it differs from Gatwick’s original test, where travellers scanned their faces at the luggage drop-off zone.

Consent concerns

That decision will limit Gatwick’s ability to use facial recognition for other services.

China’s Chengdu Shuangliu airport, for example, recently installed a system that automatically presents travellers with up-to-date information about their flights when they walk up to a screen. This is made possible because visitors have to present their passports at an earlier stage.

Even so, one civil liberties group is worried travellers might not realise they can opt out.

“Our main concern… would be the issue of proper consent,” said Ioannis Kouvakas, from Privacy International.

“Placing general or vague signs that merely let individuals know that this technology is being deployed, once individuals are already inside the check-in area, is inadequate, in our view, to satisfy the strict transparency and consent requirements imposed by data-protection laws.

“If this would apply to child travellers… it raises even more concerns, considering the special protection afforded to children’s privacy and the risks associated with having their biometrics taken by the airport private entities.”

A spokeswoman for Gatwick said it had designed its use of the technology to be “compliant with all data protection law” and passengers would be able to choose to have their passports checked by human staff.

“Our next passenger trial will take place in the next six months and no data will be stored – instead it will be held momentarily while the identity check takes place, only a matter of seconds,” she said.

Children under a certain age would need parental or guardian consent, she added, although Gatwick had still to determine what the cut-off point would be.


Self-driving wheelchairs to be trialled at Abu Dhabi airport

Ismail Sebugwaawo /Abu Dhabi Filed on September 16, 2019 | Last updated on September 16, 2019 at 08.14 pm

The wheelchair is the first for any airline and airport in the region.

A trial run of self-driving wheelchairs has been launched at the Abu Dhabi International Airport to allow passengers with restricted mobility move on their own.

The Abu Dhabi Airports partnered with Etihad Airways to introduce the wheelchairs at Terminal 3 ahead of its launch at the new Midfield Terminal.

Also see: Dubai Metro’s Route 2020 trains take shape

The autonomous wheelchairs will allow passengers navigate easier through the airport without any assistance.

The trial, which will last until the end of the year, will involve intensive testing and mapping of the airport environment to facilitate autonomous movement. This will ensure that passengers can use the new technology, if introduced following the testing process. The wheelchairs will offer passengers up-to-date boarding times and gate information, an automatic brake function, and sensors to detect any obstacles in its path.

The wheelchair is the first for any airline and airport in the region. Passengers will still be able to opt for the traditional form of assistance through porters.

“The idea is to provide people of determination with self-control and the ability to guide themselves through the airport by using a joy stick. Alternatively, (they will) be able to select a gate on an iPad or an iPhone and the device will drive them there,” Tristan Thomas, Etihad Airways’ director for digital and innovation, told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the launch of the project.

Over 200 passengers using wheelchairs pass through the airport daily and officials said these will be replaced by the autonomous ones in the coming months.

The final stage of the trial will involve passengers with restricted mobility self-driving the wheelchairs through the airport and navigating through the duty-free shops and lounges to their departure gate. On arrival at the gate, and once the guest has boarded the flight, the wheelchairs will have the capability to return themselves to the collection point without staff involvement.

The trial is a partnership between Etihad Airways and Abu Dhabi Airports in collaboration with personal electric vehicle supplier WHILL and information technology company SITA.

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Drone bid to shut down Heathrow grounded activists who had hoped to bring Europe’s biggest airport, London Heathrow, to a standstill have found instead that it was their drones that struggled to get off the ground.
Last December, reported drone sightings near London’s Gatwick airport prevented hundreds of flights taking off, and the Heathrow Pause group aimed to cause similar chaos on Friday to put pressure on the government to take tougher steps to reduce carbon emissions.

But Heathrow said it remained “open and fully operational despite attempts to disrupt the airport through the illegal use of drones in protest nearby”.
“We agree with the need for climate change action but illegal protest activity designed with the intention of disrupting thousands of people is not the answer,” a spokeswoman said.

A Reuters photographer saw activist James Brown, a blind Irish former Paralympian, being arrested. He held the drone aloft rather than trying to fly it and handed himself in to police at Terminal 2.
Heathrow Pause said it had completed one flight with a toy drone but other attempts had been less successful. It posted a live stream of its early-morning activities near the airport online, and said its drones had suffered from signal jamming.
“We’ve got a little technical glitch. The drone isn’t flying,” an unidentified campaigner says in the video, as another holds a drone in the air.
Determined to avoid disruption, police invoked extra powers to move people away from the area around the airport until Sunday morning.
“The order has been implemented to prevent criminal activity which poses a significant safety and security risk to the airport,” they said in a statement.
On Friday, they arrested two men at the airport on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance, and said seven others had been arrested since Thursday.
Heathrow Pause is a splinter group of Extinction Rebellion, which blocked streets in central London this year. It had said it would fly the drones no higher than head height and had no wish to endanger life.
The group opposes the expansion of Heathrow, whose proposed third runway was approved by lawmakers last year after decades of delays and policy U-turns.
A spokesman said it did not need to disrupt flights to achieve its goal.
“The real objective was always to trigger a sensible, honest conversation, throughout society, on the dangerous folly of Heathrow expansion, with the ultimate objective of cancelling the third runway,” he said.

“That conversation is now happening.”

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Delhi Airport Facial Recognition Trial Calls for Establishment of Cybersecurity Laws

While convenience and seamless transit is at hand, implementing facial recognition at busy airports can be a nightmare unless data security standards are raised.

Representative image. (Photo: Flickr)

On September 5, it was announced that passengers commuting via Air Vistara flights from Delhi T3 would be able to voluntarily avail biometric facial data authentication, beginning September 6. The biometric authentication service would be introduced on a trial basis, and is being held by Delhi International Airport Limited for a period of three months. Services are being offered by Portuguese IdMaas (Identity Management-as-a-Service) firm, Vision-Box, which has raised further concerns about the safety of a particularly sensitive array of data.

It is this that may become key to the success of the facial recognition trial at Delhi Airport, and even provide precedence to how privacy legislations are shaped in the future. Right now, the “voluntary” bit of the facial authentication programme seems to be of utmost importance. “Facial recognition presents numerous challenges in today’s context in India, primarily because this technology can violate people’s right to privacy, which is listed as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Right now, there is no legal framework that regulates or enables the use of facial recognition. So, the seemingly random use of facial data by airlines or airports would seem to be a complete violation of the people’s right to privacy,” says Dr. Pavan Duggal, cybersecurity advocate and chairman of International Commission on Cybersecurity Law.

The technology, however, is not being rolled out as a replacement of any established security procedures already in place at airports, and instead being tested as a convenience factor. One big reason for this, is that even though the technology has been around for a while, there are areas to improve. “It’s a good thing that the service is being started as a trial in combination with the existing government ID verification. Facial recognition technology is not particularly new, and has been around for some time — you already see multiple companies and organisation doing it. By itself, facial recognition technology is not entirely foolproof. But, it does offer about 85 to 90 percent accuracy. So, this technology is actually used in combination with other technologies,” says Sidharth Mutreja, enterprise cybersecurity solutions architect, Asia-Pacific, at Kaspersky India.

One major implication of establishing facial recognition at airports is that eventually, the government will be required to step up and take responsibility for the safety of its citizens. As Duggal states, “There needs to be enough checks and balances to ensure that the data is being properly handled, and is only being given access to by certain authorities. In this scenario, the usage of this data in places such as Hyderabad or Delhi airport have opened up a Pandora’s box of information for the government, since running of airports is a sovereign function. Hence, government bodies cannot run away from the consequences of using facial recognition at airports.”

It is this factor that might eventually speed up the adoption of stringent cybersecurity legislation, work on which has been in progress in recent times. Until then, biometric authentication such as facial recognition cannot be implemented as a standard in any public infrastructure, and hence kicks in the “voluntary” bit of the trial. Duggal explains, “I don’t think we should be in a hurry to employ this tech. Like we saw in California, if the facial data is stolen, the identity of an individual can be compromised for a long period of time. These are just some of the challenges that must be addressed before we start implementing such technology in public infrastructure. Even if an airline is privately operated, they can only be operational in airports, because of which a government is involved in any case. The fundamental right to privacy is directly dealt with by the state, and not by the private entity in question.”

Mutreja identifies two clear areas which will come in focus with the ongoing facial recognition trials at Delhi Airport. “Among two key factors, privacy is one aspect that needs to be closely looked at — how you store that (facial recognition) data, where you keep it, and what you do with it once it is used. The second factor is to prevent abuse of the data, and monitor who has access to it,” he says. The onus, then, is clearly on seeing whether the technology really makes the in-airport transit process easier or more streamlined than it is today. Mutreja adds, “This might have a similar effect as what we saw a few years ago, when we used to have stamping of bags at airports as compulsory security protocol. Now, the bags are monitored at specific points and cleared automatically, rather than needing to put stamps on them.”

While the trial might provide an interesting case study for the Indian government to consider in future, citizens of India should proceed with caution before authorising use of their facial data, until then. “India has slowly woken up to the possibility of new tech, but we do not have a cyber security law, or a data protection law, or even a privacy law, which makes use of facial recognition usage in airports even more alarming,” says Duggal, affirming the need for regulation before establishing advanced technology in public spaces.

Air Vistara, the airline handed responsibility for conducting the trials, declined News18’s request for its comments on the development, stating that the trials are being implemented by Delhi International Airport Limited, the private body assigned with running the airport.

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Gatwick Airport welcomes AI technology to its apron

Gatwick Airport has become the first airport worldwide to deploy artificial intelligence computer vision technology on the apron for operational use. 

Gatwick Airport welcomes AI technology to its apron

Under performance of ground handling leads to delays that cost the aviation industry billions of dollars a year, but Gatwick has become the first airport in the world to reduce delays and improve on-time performance with the help of computer vision, directly on the apron. 

The apron AI technology, from Assaia, uses computer vision cameras pointing down to the stands on the apron to detect the events that make up an aircraft turn process – aircraft on stand, jet bridge connected, doors open, fuelling started, catering truck connected, push back tug connected etc.

Typically, more than 10 stakeholders have to synchronise their activities to turn an aircraft around on stand. In order to minimise the turn-around time, the overall process needs to be optimised across multiple organisations. This needs to be done at a granular level for each aircraft type, each airline and each type of stand. A key part of any optimisation initiative is accurate and unbiased measurements of key activities. Unbiased, accurate and automatic measurements of turn events is what computer vision technology enables for airports, airlines and ground handlers. Applying machine learning would then enable process optimisation and timely intervention. 

Currently, the AI technology primarily relies on visual data from off-the-shelf cameras.

Abhi Chacko, Head of Innovation, Gatwick Airport Limited, has led several AI initiatives at Gatwick Airport over the last couple of years. AI apron technology is just another leap Gatwick has made to ensure efficiency of operations. Chacko said: “AI, in this case computer vision coupled with machine learning, was conceived as a tool to understand natural world and ultimately optimise highly complex systems. Airside operations are a great example of such a complex system. Considering the likely growth in air traffic coming our way, the earlier we start using AI to improve our operations, the more successful we will be as an airport.”

Max Diez, CEO, Assaia International Inc, said: “Our entire team is extremely happy to observe that our system generates accurate event data over a broad range of different light and weather conditions. Thanks to the extensive tests we could conduct at Gatwick, we were able to prove that AI-powered perception is in fact ready for production use.”

The collaboration between the startup company and the airport operator began in March 2018 and by November 2018, Assaia‘s real-time dashboard was made available to trial for the airlines and ground handlers operating at Gatwick.

Chacko commented: “Our airline customers and handlers were very enthusiastic. They immediately realised that, at long last, the turn process has become more transparent, their systems can really see the turnaround process in minute level of detail, facilitating purposeful interventions and effective optimisation.”

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Robot at Zhanjiang Airport speeds up customs clearance

A multi-purpose robot armed with artificial intelligence works at Zhanjiang Airport in Guangodong Province. (Photo/

A multi-purpose robot armed with artificial intelligence works at Zhanjiang Airport in Guangodong Province. (Photo/

Special: 70th birthday of PRChina

(ECNS) — Customs authorities at Zhanjiang Airport, located in Zhanjiang City of Guangdong Province, have a new recruit — a multi-purpose robot armed with artificial intelligence and top-notch detection technologies. 

It marks the first time that a robot has been used by customs officials in Southern China. 

Named Dabai, the robot may look cute and friendly, but it is able to detect signs for drugs and explosives, provide monitoring in low temperatures, check jewelry and possible chemical warfare agents, and test fruit too. 

It can also interact with visitors, answer inquiries about taxation, policy and exchange rates, and offer multilingual translations.

From January to August, customs checks at Zhanjiang Airport uncovered 520 cases involving illegal products being brought into China, including fruit and meat products.

The application of the robot can greatly improve customs inspections and safety, acting as an assistant to ordinary inspection means such as manual checks and X-ray and CT machines.

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