Two-thirds of UK tourists scared by idea of robots replacing humans at airport security

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A new report commissioned by travel site Travelzoo has found that 51% of UK tourists predict customer-facing security checks at airports will soon be in the hands of robots and artificial intelligence and data-processing machines. For two thirds (67%) of respondents, the idea of technology replacing humans in roles related to safety and security is frightening.

Of those surveyed, 45% expected technology to replace humans in many security roles within a few years, and 35% believe that doing so would dramatically improve safety in travel compared with 26% who thought that security would not be improved.

The majority of UK tourists (77%) who participated in the survey believe machines learn processes faster, have better memories than humans (76%) and are less likely to make mistakes (73%). Where humans fare better is in the ‘softer skills’ such as higher emotional intelligence levels (92%), understanding facial expressions (84%) and expressing feelings (93%). Respondents also feel that overall humans provide better security against terrorism than technology such as robots and artificial intelligence.

Richard Singer, president of Europe, Travelzoo, said, “Although travelers accept that robots and technology are going to play a big role in making travel safer and more secure over the next few years, the research confirms that consumers are skeptical about handing total control for their safety over to machines.

“We know robots and artificial intelligence are becoming commonplace in the travel industry, and with the advent of technology allowing us to do things we couldn’t have dreamed just a few years ago, our research shows there’s an expectation of automatons being used to keep us safe too.

“Travel providers though need to err on the side of caution when deploying robotics in the industry, particularly in customer-facing roles where robots need to work hand-in-hand with humans, if they are going to be accepted by travelers,” concluded Singer.

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About Author

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Helen has worked for UKi Media & Events for nearly a decade. She joined the company as assistant editor on Passenger Terminal World and since progressed to become editor of five publications, covering everything from aviation, logistics and e-commerce to meteorology. She has a love for travel and property and has redeveloped three houses in three years. When she’s not editing magazines, she’s running around after her two boys and their partner in crime, Pete the pug.

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