Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, has partnered with Australian company Elenium Automation to trial new technology which allows self-service devices at airports to be used to help identify travelers with medical conditions, potentially including the early stages of COVID-19.
Etihad will be the first airline to trial the 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. It will then divert to a teleconference or alert qualified staff on site, who can make further assessments and manage travelers as appropriate.
“This technology is not designed or intended to diagnose medical conditions. It is an early warning indicator which will help to identify people with general symptoms, so that they can be further assessed by medical experts, potentially preventing the spread of some conditions to others preparing to board flights to multiple destinations,” said Jorg Oppermann, vice president hub and midfield operations at Etihad Airways.
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 minimising the potential of any viral or bacterial transmission.
“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,”Aaron Hornlimann, CEO and co-founder of Elenium Automation said.
Etihad will initially trial the monitoring technology at its hub airport in Abu Dhabi at the end of April and throughout May 2020, initially with a range of volunteers, and, as flights resume, outbound passengers.