UAE-based carrier Etihad Airways is partnering with Australian company Elenium Automation to trial a new technology which allows self-service devices at airports to be used to help identify travellers with medical conditions, which could potentially include the early stages of COVID-19.
The technology 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. Services at these facilities will automatically be suspended if a passenger’s vital signs indicate potential symptoms of illness. Airport staff will then be alerted and can make further assessments and manage passengers as appropriate.
Etihad will intially trial the monitoring technology at its hub airport in Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE, intially with volunteers, and as flights resume, outbound passengers.
“This technology is an early warning indicator which will help to identify people with general symptoms, so that they can further assessed by medical experts, potentially preventing the spread of some conditions to others preparing to board flights to multiple destinations,” said Jorg Oppermann, VP Hub and Midfield Operations, Etihad Airways.
Elenium has also developed ‘hands free’ technologies that enable the touchless use of self-service devices through voice recognition, further minimising the potential of any viral or bacterial transmission.
Oppermann adds that the airline is testing the technology because “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 minimise disruptions.”
Elenium Automation’s CEO and Co-Founder, Aaron Hornlimann, stated: “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, this would ensure health screenings can become standard across airports, without putting staff in harm with manual processes.”
He added that as well as providing the ability to screen every individual, including multiple people on the same booking, the technology can also be retrofitted into any airport kiosk or bag drop installed as a desktop system at a passenger processing point. “We believe the introduction of touchless self-service and automated health screening will encourage passengers to return to travel sooner,” he concluded.