As Nigeria’s aviation industry prepares for the resumption of domestic flights amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja has acquired two robots with artificial intelligence (AI) features to improve passenger safety
A demo flight between Abuja and Lagos was conducted on Saturday by the airport as it observed compliance with safety measures put in place to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that hand wash and sanitisers were provided, temperature checks were conducted, and the rules of physical distancing were enforced.
At the departure lounge, the seats have been rearranged to increase spacing and instructions are placed to discourage passengers from using certain seats to urge them to maintain physical distance from others.
NAN also reports that two newly acquired machines, for the purpose of identifying passengers, had been stationed at the airport.
One of the highlights of the dry run test was the introduction of AI robots by Aerokeys Nigeria, an aviation service company, which successfully performed facial recognition.
The robots will also be used to reduce human contacts by performing repetitive tasks such as measuring body temperature, screening passengers, managing and sharing flight information, and generally enhancing compliance with the new airport protocols.
If they observe passengers with high temperatures attempting to board a plane, they will sound an alarm and identify the persons, the chief executive officer of Aerokeys Nigeria, Satumari Kudla told journalists.
“What we are trying to do is make our contribution to the fight against COVID-19 by bringing these robots to facilitate repetitive tasks in the airport environment,” he said.
Musa Nuhu, director-general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), said on Thursday at the press briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 that a new date for the resumption of flights will be announced following the Saturday demonstration. Monday, June 21, was initially fixed as a possible date but the NCAA said on Thursday, June 18, that it was no longer feasible.