Etihad to trial COVID-19 triage and contactless airport check-in

Etihad Airways is to be the first airline to trial new contactless, self-service technologies developed by Elenium Automation. These can estimate a passenger’s vital signs, allowing for touchless health screenings at airport kiosks and bag drops.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Elenium has been developing a self-service technology that can detect a passenger’s temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate at any airport touchpoint – such as a kiosk, bag drop, security or immigration gate – enabling the self-service device to act as a screening station for potential symptoms of COVID-19 or other illness.

In partnership with Amazon Web Services, Elenium has also developed ‘hands free’ technologies that enable touchless use of self-service devices through voice recognition, further minimising the potential of any viral or bacterial transmission.

“We believe this approach is a world first,” says Aaron Hornlimann, CEO and Co-founder, Elenium Automation. “Elenium has lodged patents for both the automatic detection of illness symptoms at an aviation self-service touchpoint, and touchless self-service technology at an airport. Combined, this would ensure health screenings can become standard across airports now and into the future, without putting staff at harm with manual processes.”

He added that, despite challenges facing the aviation sector, it was vital for airports to stay ahead of the curve and instil confidence among passengers that airports are safe environments when the situation returns to normal.

“We will get over this,” he comments. “We have developed this technology to give airlines and airports the ability to rebound quickly when the situation improves. While it is a very difficult time for the industry, airports have an opportunity during this shut down to make changes now that inspire greater confidence in their infrastructure and processes, especially for passenger safety and efficiency. We believe the introduction of touchless self-service and automated health screening will encourage passengers to return to travel sooner.”

Jorg Oppermann, VP HUB and Midfield Operations, Etihad Airways, adds: “We are testing this fit to fly technology because we believe it will not only help in the current environment, but also into the future, with assessing a passenger’s suitability to travel and thus minimise disruptions.”

The first patent innovation relates to the ability to triage a passenger at a self-service touchpoint prior to boarding. It will automatically suspend the self-service check-in or bag drop process if a passenger’s vital signs indicate potential illness symptoms, reducing the risk of transmission of a virus to another passenger or staff. At an airport, the system would screen every individual, including multiple people on the same booking. The technology can be retrofitted into any airport kiosk or bag drop, or installed as a desktop system at a passenger processing point such as an immigration desk.

If someone tests outside of acceptable tolerance, the system will divert to a teleconference or alert in-person staff, who can then make further assessments and manage that passenger as appropriate. The company has also lodged a patent on the touchless use of self-service devices, including reading passports by simply holding them up.

Elenium’s airport self-service kiosk and retrofit module will now include:

  • A touchless user interface using voice recognition (multiple languages) control.
  • A method to control a self-service device at an airport using head control.
  • A method to read passports by holding it open in front of a camera.
  • A method to detect a passenger’s vital signs including temperature and heart rate in a contactless way.
  • Allow a person to speak to an agent in real time using telepresence if required.

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