Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian kicked off the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas today. At one of the largest technology shows in the world, Bastian – named by Fortne magazine one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders in 2018 – explained how the 94 year old company is transforming itself with technology.
For those of us who spend a lot of time in airports, Bastian gave a fascinating look at the future of flight experience – from your doorstep to your destination. “Air Travel made it possible for all of us to be here today,” said Bastian. “Tech is the tool that enables us to accomplish our mission.”
Delta’s made a huge investment in technology – an investment that Bastian says totals billions in the last 5 years, as the company works with technology partners to improve their customer experience.
“We need innovation,” says Bastian, pointing out that the company carries 600,000 passengers every 15 minutes. “We need to think big, start small, and scale fast.”
Delta’s use of innovative technology is broad – but Bastian says that several innovative programs are on the horizon, including bio-metric enabled boarding and real-time luggage tracking, both of which help support two of the most stressful aspects of air travel.
“What if bags were picked up and delivered from your home to your hotel?” asked Bastian.”With real time tracking, we remove the stress of wondering if your bags have been delivered.”
Delta and Lyft: Multi-Modal Transportation
“Multi-modal transportation” is a buzz word in urban air mobility and smart city discussions. That’s the idea that a transport system – either public or private – should accommodate multiple modes and vehicles. For example, if a ride-sharing app offers not only a car option, but suggests a bike share, train ride or a drone flight when appropriate, that’s multi-modal transportation. Delta is partnering with ride-sharing company Lyft – and Bastian brought Lyft co-founder John Zimmer to the stage to co-present.
Zimmer says that Lyft is committed to making multi-modal transportation a reality. In addition to bikes, car rentals, and self-driving cars, Zimmerman says that the partnership will “bring ride sharing to the sky.” Delta and Lyft have an ambitious – and potentially game-changing – plan: “building one of the largest private flight networks in the country,” says Zimmer.
This You’ve Got to See: the Luggage-Carrying Exoskeleton
And, because it is CES and we’ve come to expect weird and wonderful technology, Bastian teased some of the more sci-fi projects that Delta is working on. In addition to investing billions of dollars in airports, Bastian says that Delta is “working to redefine the airport experience.” That includes biometrics technology that “gets you through airport security faster,” says Bastian, and “parallel reality, from a company by the name of ‘misappliedsciences'”, which would allow multiple people to look at the same screen and see content specific to them – like an arrivals and departure board that only shows your flight, rather than a comprehensive list.
With another partner, Delta is developing a suit that works with a human to “lift very heavy things,” Bastian describes. Sounds great for luggage – and if we can get one for trash day that might be even better.
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