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LG Electronics

Seoul’s Incheon International Airport Hires Fleet of Helpful Robots

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LG Electronics

Starting in June, Seoul’s Incheon International Airport will welcome a team of helpful new employees as the nation ramps up preparations for the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang County. The twist? They’re robots.

As the Associated Press reports, a small fleet of self-driving robots called Troika will cruise around the nation's largest airport and help passengers find their gates. Manufactured by LG Electronics, the 4.5-foot high machine responds to its name, and has a large, smartphone-like display on its front that displays flight information, the weather, and an airport map.

When speaking to customers, Troika's touchscreen face will display blinking eyes and a smile. As for Troika’s languages, Travel + Leisure reports that they will include English, Chinese, and Japanese, in addition to Korean.

Airport patrons can use Troika to scan their tickets for flight updates. She then generously offers to lead them to their gates (and instructs travelers to pick up the pace if they’re trailing too far behind).

Travelers won’t be the only ones receiving assistance from smart machines, as a jumbo cleaning robot will also join the custodial staff to help them keep the airport’s floor sparkling clean. In the future, Incheon International Airport Corp. plans to enlist even more robots to provide warnings about banned items, serve meals in lounges, and carry baggage.

But for the most part, the airport's staff will continue to be mostly human, officials say. They’ve reassured employees that Troika and co. haven’t been deployed to steal their jobs—they’re just there to make them easier.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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Hate Waiting at Baggage Claim? Here's How to Make Sure Your Suitcase Arrives First
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Air travel involves plenty of waiting, from standing in long security lines to preparing for takeoff. And even after you land, your trip is stalled until you locate your luggage on the carousel. Luckily for impatient fliers, there are several ways to game the system and ensure a speedy suitcase delivery once you step off the plane, according to Travel + Leisure.

To score true VIP luggage treatment, ask the representative behind the check-in counter if they can attach a “fragile” sticker to your bag. Suitcases with these kinds of labels are often loaded last and unloaded first. (Plus, they receive the type of kid-glove treatment that ultimately helps them last longer.)

Keep in mind, however, that you’ll need a new tag each time you fly. If it looks old, or was issued by a different airline, the crew might not pay attention to it, according to Condé Nast Traveler. Also, consider upping your suitcase game, as quality, hard-shell bags look like they contain delicate or important items. Their appearance—along with the fragile sticker—will inspire baggage handlers to give them special treatment.

Another trick that can shave a few minutes off your wait time is making sure you're the last person to check in, instead of rushing to be first. If you can't resist getting to the airport early, try asking if you can check it at the gate. This could make your bag one of the last on the plane, and thus one of the first taken out. This method isn't surefire, however, as loading and unloading systems vary among flights.

And if all else fails, Thrillist advises that you try upgrading your flight. Some airlines give priority to bags that belong to elite travelers and business class, meaning they’ll be stored separately from other luggage and come out first. Good luck! No matter what happens, at least you can't have it worse than the lady who had to wait 20 years for her bag to show up.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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Google Maps Is Getting a Makeover With More Icons and Colors
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Prepare to get used to some big changes to your Google Maps app. The tech giant announced in a blog post that it’s changing the tool’s design to better highlight information that’s relevant to your journey.

The first update can be seen when switching between modes of transportation. If you’re driving from your home to work, for example, Maps will show you gas stations along your route, but switch to public transit and train stations will pop up instead.

The app’s color scheme has also been given a makeover. All points of interest (POI) that appear on the map are now color-coded. Looking for the nearest restaurant? Food and drink POI are orange. Need some retail therapy? Shopping icons are blue. Hospitals (pink), churches (gray), outdoor spaces (green), and more are included in the new system.

Within the larger categories, Google has introduced dozens of specialized icons to indicate subcategories. Banks are marked with a dollar sign, cafes with a coffee cup, etc.

“The world is an ever-evolving place,” Google Maps product manager Liz Hunt wrote in the blog post. “Now, we’re updating Google Maps with a new look that better reflects your world, right now.”

This overhaul is the latest way Google Maps is evolving to make life more convenient for its users. In the past year, the app has rolled out features that allow you to locate your parked car and to check how crowded attractions are at certain times. The new design changes will start appearing over the next few weeks.

Phones with maps app open.
Google

Color key for Google Maps.
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Icons for Google Maps.
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