In a joint research project, Airbus and the technology and innovation consultancy Altran have developed autonomous swarm robots that make flying a safe experience despite COVID-19-related restrictions.

Thanks to their multifunctionality, they can be used for the automated disinfection of aircraft and airport areas as well as for the detection of passengers with increased temperatures. The "Tetrabots" - this is the name of the smart, ground-based robots that move in a swarm system. They are characterized by their particular flexibility and can not only assist in the production process to place cabin monuments or seats with a perfect fit and without any human interaction, but can also be equipped with a wide variety of modules like special robot arms or disinfection devices. This enables them to remove contamination and viruses immediately and disinfect surfaces. In this way they autonomously ensure hygienic cleanliness at airports, in the aircraft cabin and in particularly critical areas such as toilets, galleys, cockpits and hatracks. The result is optimized hygiene conditions and thus an increase in the well-being of passengers during the entire journey. Last but not least, improved hygiene reduces the risk of infection and creates a safer working environment for production, airport and crew members.

The very light and mobile robots are equipped with four mecanum wheels, which gives them the greatest possible flexibility and manoeuvrability for a ground-based vehicle and, above all, meets the challenges of limited space and permissible loads in aircraft. The state-of-the-art lidar, camera, or heat sensors that can be attached to each individual robot enable the entire "swarm" to easily detect and independently navigate changing environments. The modular "Tetrabot" is also capable of detecting passengers with elevated temperatures via a thermal imaging camera and communicating the identified risks to gate personnel.

High hygiene requirements and a resulting feeling of safety will remain important factors in the decision process for or against a flight booking, even after COVID-19. By allowing passengers to see the "Tetrabots" during their missions throughout their journey and by informing them about the hygienic cleanliness in the airport and on the aircraft, the passengers' well-being and also their confidence in flying itself will increase. A patent application has already been filed for the pioneering "Tetrabots".