Technology provider SITA and robotics company BlueBotics have developed Leo, a new robot for automated baggage handling.

Leo is currently being trialled outside Geneva Airport in Switzerland.

The fully autonomous, self-propelling robot is designed to help passengers check in, print bag tags and carry up to two suitcases with a maximum weight of 32kg.

Leo avoids obstacles and navigates high-traffic environments, such as airports.

Named after Leonardo da Vinci, the robot is expected to automate the baggage handling process from bag drop to collection.

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The system uses artificial intelligence to collect, check-in, transport and load bags onto flights outside terminals, without the assistance of airport staff.

Passengers touch Leo’s Scan&Fly bag drop interface, which opens its compartment doors and allows bags to be dropped inside.

After scanning their boarding pass, passengers can attach printed tags to their bag.

When the bags have been loaded and tagged, Leo’s compartment door closes and displays the boarding gate and departure time.

"The use of a robot such as Leo limits the number of bags in the airport terminal, helping us accommodate a growing number of passengers."

The robot then carries the bags directly to the baggage handling area, where they are loaded onto their corresponding flights.

SITA noted that the doors of the robot can only be reopened by the operator unloading the baggage.

Leo and other similar robots are expected to reduce congestion and ease navigation at airports.

Genève Aéroport IT head Massimo Gentile said: "In a busy airport such as Geneva Airport, the use of a robot such as Leo limits the number of bags in the airport terminal, helping us accommodate a growing number of passengers without compromising the airport experience inside the terminal.

"Leo also proves the case for increased use of robotics to make passengers’ journey a little more comfortable, whether it is checking in baggage, providing directions or helping them through the security process."

Image: Leo avoids obstacles and navigates high-traffic environments. Photo: courtesy of SITA.