Etihad Airways will partner with Australian company Elenium Automation to trial new medical technology, which allows self-service kiosks at airports to be used to help identify travellers with medical conditions, potentially including those who are in the early stages of COVID-19.
Etihad will be the first airline to trial Elenium’s technology, which can monitor the temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate of any person using an airport touchpoint such as a check-in or information kiosk, a bag drop facility, a security point or immigration gate.
The Elenium system will automatically suspend the self-service check-in or bag drop process if a passenger’s vital signs indicate potential symptoms of illness. The system will then divert to a teleconference or alert qualified staff on-site, who can make further assessments and manage travellers as appropriate.
|An airline passenger using Elenium’s Touchless ID system to do a “hands free” medical check|
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 minimizing the potential of any viral or bacterial transmission.
Etihad will initially trial the monitoring technology at its hub airport in Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE, at the end of April and throughout May 2020, initially with a range of volunteers, and, as flights resume, outbound passengers.
Jorg Oppermann, Etihad’s Vice President of Operations said that, “It has long been the case that aircraft, with their highly sophisticated air-recycling systems and standards of hygiene, are not the transmission vehicle for illnesses.”
He added, “We are testing this technology because we believe it will not only help in the current COVID-19 outbreak but also into the future, with assessing a passenger’s suitability to travel and thus minimizing disruptions. At Etihad, we see this is another step towards ensuring that future viral outbreaks do not have the same devastating effect on the global aviation industry as is currently the case.”
Aaron Hornlimann, CEO and Co-founder of Elenium Automation said, “We believe this approach is a world first. 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 together, this would ensure health screenings can become standard across airports, without putting staff in harm with manual processes.”
Hornlimann added that he believes that, “This system can screen every individual, including multiple people on the same booking. The technology can also 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. We believe the introduction of touchless self-service and automated health screening will encourage passengers to return to travel sooner.”
Oppermann from Etihad added that if the initial tests are successful, they expect it to become a standard part of airport technologies across the world and that it would be an important component of rebuilding trust that international travel is safe.
As well as airports, Elenium’s kiosk technology can also be used for buses, cruise ships, railways and in any location that deals with a large numbers of people on a daily basis.