Helping you to your next destination.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines North America set out to design and build a friendly robotic concierge to embody their brand promise of being the industry’s most attentive and caring airline. One often forgotten and out-of-reach experience for airline operators is the journey passengers take through the airport before getting to the plane. KLM sought to reimagine how it assists passengers to their gates and aimed to make the airport experience a whole lot more enjoyable.
“We want Care-E to be a loving and helpful, eager companion, but not a know it all. Like a puppy trying to please.”
Previously, KLM Dutch Airlines had invested heavily over the course of 4 years into research and development for service robotics. The outcome was a single towering robot, named Spencer, that could orient itself around the airport and answer questions.
Still eager to break into service robotics, KLM North America enlisted 10XBeta, via BBDO New York, to help rapidly rethink the airport service robotics industry by working on a product development feasibility test over the course of 12 weeks. The engagement was broken into two phases, Discovery and Development.
The first autonomous, leading-and-following, service robot for highly populated spaces, such as airports; able to effectively cohabitate and interact with passengers for a superb service experience.
With this goal in mind, 10XBeta set out to embody KLM’s brand promise with every touchpoint along the way. We worked closely with the concept team to determine the desired experience and service offering that could be supported with current technologies, along with potential form factors and brand expression. From there, 10XBeta developed a product brief detailing the technology and software stack up that would be used for the MVP product. Numerous bench-top hardware and control software tests helped to shape the brief’s technical specification for the MVP phase. Early form studies were also extremely important to build excitement on the client team, drive rapid decision making, as well as understand the spatial requirements for the electronic integration.
Validating & Prototyping
Informed by the Discovery Phase, we designed and developed the underlying structural framework for a ‘Prototype Zero’ system. Concurrently, the design team worked to develop a macro form and understand the physical interactions that would become the foundation of Care-E’s character. The engineering team prototyped with various technologies to enable Care-E with spatial awareness, computer vision and mapping capabilities, allowing Care-E to safely guide users through chaotic airports.
After weeks of testing and iterating technologies bound by form constraints, we built a fully-functional Care-E MVP. This included consolidating electronics, fabricating the body shell, and integrating the full assembly.
The product release culminated in a live commercial shoot at the San Francisco airport and a launch party at New Lab in Brooklyn, NY. The Care-E MVP challenged KLM leadership to reimagine how technology can change their relationships with passengers and opened a dialogue, both internally and with the world, about how KLM airlines is using technology to improve experiences and services.