Meet Bill: The AI-powered bot BA plans to use at Heathrow in 2020

The airline says it will trial the fully autonomous robots to assist passengers with basic tasks

British Airways (BA) will use sophisticated AI-powered robots to help reduce congestion and help customers with queries at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 from next year.

Two bots – dubbed Bill after Lieutenant EH “Bill” Lawford who was the captain on the world’s first routine long-haul passenger flight from London to Paris back 100 years ago - will take part in the trial, which is part a wider, five-year plan to improve customer experience. This is backed by a £6.5 billion investment, which has also seen BA roll out 3D printing, driverless baggage vehicles, and other innovations such as automated check-in desks and more.

By using robotics to assist passengers (Terminal 5 sees some 90,000 passengers travelling each day), airline and airport staff can be freed up to work on other value-added or complex tasks, according to BA.

“We are always looking for new and innovative ways to use automation to help our customers enjoy a faster and smoother journey through the airport and beyond,” said Ricardo Vidal, BA’s head of innovation.

“These smart robots are the latest innovation allowing us to free up our people to deal with immediate issues and offer that one-on-one service we know our customers appreciate. In the future, I envisage a fleet of robots working side-by-side with our people offering a truly seamless travel experience.”

Related Resource

Diversity in the digital workplace

The future of work is a collaborative effort between humans and robots

Download now

The robots make use of geo-location tech and a multitude of sensors so they’re aware of their surroundings and, importantly, can move freely and safely when assisting people.

Tech firm BotsAndUS created Bill, programming the robots to speak multiple languages and be able to handle a wide range of questions.

​“We are very excited to partner with British Airways. The trial will pave the way for other new and interesting services we can provide to improve the customer journey as we work together to re-imagine the airport experience,” added Andrei Danescu, BotsAndUs founder.

Featured Resources

How virtual desktop infrastructure enables digital transformation

Challenges and benefits of VDI

Free download

The Okta digital trust index

Exploring the human edge of trust

Free download

Optimising workload placement in your hybrid cloud

Deliver increased IT agility with the cloud

Free Download

Modernise endpoint protection and leave your legacy challenges behind

The risk of keeping your legacy endpoint security tools

Download now

Most Popular

How to move Microsoft's Windows 11 from a hard drive to an SSD
Microsoft Windows

How to move Microsoft's Windows 11 from a hard drive to an SSD

4 Jan 2022
How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode
Microsoft Windows

How to boot Windows 11 in Safe Mode

6 Jan 2022
Microsoft Exchange servers break thanks to 'Y2K22' bug
email delivery

Microsoft Exchange servers break thanks to 'Y2K22' bug

4 Jan 2022