Etihad to trail contactless health screenings to detect COVID-19 at airports

Etihad Health Screening

In collaboration with Australian company Elenium Automation, Etihad Airways will begin trialling an innovative new technology to help identify travellers with medical conditions before they fly, potentially including the early stages of COVID-19.

Rolling out at the end of this month for trialling throughout May at the airline’s hub airport in Abu Dhabi, Etihad will initially test the new technology with a range of volunteers. As flights resume, this will be extended to outbound passengers, opening them up to a completely contactless way to monitor health before flying.

It will work via self-service devices which can monitor the temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate of any person. These will be located across various airport touchpoints, from check-in and information kiosks, to bag drop facilities, security points or immigration gates.

The Elenium-developed system will automatically suspend the self-service, check-in or bag drop process if a passenger’s vital signs indicate potential symptoms of a targeted illness. After detection, the machine will divert to teleconference or alert qualified staff on site for further assessment and management.

Amazon Web Services has also been tapped so Elenium can include hands-free features which activate devices via voice recognition, minimising the need to touch any buttons to limit the spread of potential illnesses.

“This technology is not designed or intended to diagnose medical conditions,” emphasised Jorg Oppermann, Vice President Hub and Midfield Operations, Etihad Airways. “It is an early warning indicator which will help to identify people with general symptoms, so that they can be further assessed by medical experts, potentially preventing the spread of some conditions to others preparing to board flights to multiple destinations.”

“It has long been the case that aircraft, with their highly sophisticated air-recycling systems and standards of hygiene are not the transmission vehicle for illnesses. We are testing this technology because we believe it will not only help in the current COVID-19 outbreak, but also into the future, with assessing a passenger’s suitability to travel and thus minimising disruptions.”

Etihad and Elenium have teamed up before to automate certain parts of travel and iron out kinks in the airport experience.

Elenium have indicated that the system would screen every individual, as well as multiple people on the same booking. The technology can also be retrofitted into any airport kiosk or bag drop, or even installed as a desktop system at a passenger processing point such as an immigration desk.

It is hoped that automated health screening technology will assist in encouraging passengers to feel more confident in travel after things with COVID-19 clear up. You can see how it all works below.

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is an Editor-At-Large at the AU review, loves writing about travel and hospitality, and is partial to a perfectly textured octopus. You can reach him on Instagram: @chrisdsingh.