Spencer will, in theory, "take group behavior into account and recognize emotions."
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines began testing its new navigational robot at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport this week, with hopes to eventually make it available for all passengers to use when lost, short on transfer time, or felled by the language barrier.
As the airline's news release reveals, the robot, named Spencer, will be roaming around the Schengen area of the Amsterdam airport through December 4 as part of this testing phase. As one of the supporters of this project, the European Commission notes that up to 80 percent of Schiphol's traffic "is due to transfer passengers whose efficient handling is a significant operational challenge." The Schengen area of the airport faces especially bad bottlenecking, as transfer passengers have to go through passport control to reach their connecting flights to other Schengen countries.
Though he won't be interacting with actual passengers just yet, if you're passing through the airport you should keep an eye out to see him in action. The idea is for Spencer to "be able to recognize groups, take group behavior into account and recognize emotions" as well as "proactively respond to unexpected situations." Those unexpected situations could be as simple as figuring out how to deal with and navigate around things like a parked luggage cart, according to The Verge.
Spencer will go through a final demonstration phase in March 2016, after which KLM hopes to use him as part of their greater robotics strategy that Vice President of Customer Innovation & Care Michel Pozas notes is "to offer staff and customers even better support, using innovative technology."