There are five very noticeable travelers at the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport. They have two wheels and lots of artificial intelligence. In fact, they're robots and are among an increasing number of solutions for contactless travel at CVG and other airports.
Gita ("short trip" in Italian), wasn't designed for a pandemic, but the company that makes it - Piaggio Fast Forward (PFF) - says the possibilities are endless, including picking up food and duty-free goods and bringing it to passengers. It even hauls your carry-on around before you board the plane.
"The thing that's nice about it from a hygiene perspective is it was meant to make your hands free so you don't have to be pushing something or carrying something," says PFF CEO Greg Lynn.
Lynn says since COVID, he's had a lot of interest because the only time you touch Gita is to pair with it - other than that, it's contactless.
Here is WVXU's Ann Thompson trying Gita out at CVG:
CVG is the only airport that is piloting Gita. The airport's Chief Innovation Officer Brian Cobb explains Gita has sensors and cameras so it won't bump into you. If somebody steps between you and Gita, it will stop until it sees you.
"Never in my 30-year career did I think we would see a pandemic," Cobb says. "But here we are, so if it can happen once it can happen again. What is it that we will take away from this experience that will really drive us forward on behalf of safety and reliability?"
Cobb says the airport is an evolving business.
The Denver International Airport has partnered with the biometric company Daon to provide a free pilot program called Verifly.
Through an app, passengers can sign-up to go through a contactless TSA line and ride in a dedicated train car with a limited number of people.
"Think of it as Open Table, where you book a reservation at a restaurant so you don't have to wait in line," says Daon CEO Tom Grissen. "When they arrive at the airport their app is scanned and electronic gates open. They don't have to touch anything. "
Verifly is also working with universities to help create safer campuses using this same technology.