A humanoid robot called Josie Pepper has been rolled out at Munich Airport in a test to find out how it is accepted by passengers.
The 120cm tall, with sparkling, round eyes and a ''pleasant voice'' will be answering questions for passengers in Terminal 2.
''Whether they need directions to their gate or want to stop at a certain restaurant or shop – Josie Pepper will look them in the eyes and give them a prompt answer,'' the airport says.
Munich Airport and German airline say Lufthansa Josie Pepper is the first-ever test of a humanoid robot equipped with artificial intelligence at a German airport. It is the latest step in greater application of artificial intelligence by airlines, including Air New Zealand.
For the next few weeks, Josie Pepper will welcome travellers to the non-public area of the terminal, which is jointly operated by Munich Airport and Lufthansa.
In her initial deployment, Josie Pepper, who speaks English, will wait for passengers at the top of the ramp leading to the shuttle connecting the main terminal to the satellite building.
The test phase will be used to show how passengers react.
Josie Pepper's "brain" contains a high-performance processor with a wireless local area network internet access. This creates a connection to a cloud service where speech is processed, interpreted and linked to the airport data.
''What sets the system apart: When this robot type speaks, it does not just deliver pre-defined texts. With its ability to learn, it answers each question individually. Just like a 'real' brain, the system gets steadily better at combining questions with the relevant information to provide more precise replies.''
IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) cloud-based, artificial intelligence technologies are used to power Josie Pepper's capabilities.
Air New Zealand rolled out a virtual robot — chatbot, Bravo Oscar Tango (Oscar for short) just over a year ago.
It has been having about 1,000 conversations on average each day recently..
Oscar was first introduced on the airline's website to answer commonly asked flight, baggage, lounge and Airpoints queries.
'' As with other Artificial Intelligence technology, his performance has steadily improved with every customer interaction and today he has conversations on more than 380 different topics, and is able to successfully answer close to 75 percent of questions, up from seven percent on day one,'' said the airline.
In addition to the more obvious travel questions, Oscar has been asked everything from the meaning of life to whether a customer can bring their cactus onboard, and he's even fielded several marriage proposals. He also sings songs and tells jokes on demand.
Air New Zealand chief digital officer Avi Golan said earlier this month that it had been great to see customers increasingly turning to Oscar for information, and playing a role in training him up.
'"Artificial intelligence has not only given our customers another quick and convenient way for them to interact with us and get travel information, but Oscar has also freed up our customer service agents to focus on handling more complex queries.''