Travelers planning to fly with Etihad, the Abu Dhabi-based national airline of the United Arab Emirates, will be among the first in the world to check in for flights using new technology designed to identify travelers at medical risk. The technology could help identify those in the early stages of COVID-19.
The device will be installed at the Etihad centre at Abu Dhabi International Airport and testing will begin this month.
Designed by Australian company Elenium Automation, the technology enables automatic check-in and baggage delivery facilities to diagnose by scanning passengers' heart rate, temperature and breathing capacity. Any possible illness detected through these readings automatically suspends the process. An alert is then issued to Etihad personnel, either on site or by teleconference. These staff will perform further assessments on the travelers.
"This technology is not designed or intended to diagnose medical conditions. It is an early warning indicator, which will help identify people with general symptoms so they can be evaluated by medical experts, potentially preventing the spread of some conditions to others preparing to board flights to multiple destinations," said Jorg Oppermann, vice president of Hub operations at Etihad Airways.
According to The National newspaper, Elenium Automation has also created hands-free self-service technology to be installed throughout the airport. Using voice recognition; the technology is designed to limit the potential for any viral or bacterial transmission. "We believe that the introduction of contactless self-service and automated health monitoring will encourage passengers to return to travel," said Aaron Hornlimann, CEO of Elenium Automation.
The initiative could be useful at various points in the airport, such as security, information kiosks and immigration gates.
The services will be tested with volunteers and then implemented for selected Etihad flights when scheduled passenger air service resumes.