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Philadelphia airport employs robot for contact-free food delivery

Feb. 23 (UPI) -- A Philadelphia airport announced it has employed a food delivery robot to make it easier for passengers to grab a meal in a contact-free manner.

Philadelphia International Airport unveiled Gita, a robot with a 40-pound capacity cargo bin for delivering food orders to passengers waiting for their flights.

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The robot uses Bluetooth to follow an airport AtYourGate representative through the airport to the location specified by the customer, who can order their food from airport restaurants via OrderAtPHL.com.

"Now more than ever we are looking to be forward-thinking and innovative regarding our contactless ordering options," Megan O'Connell, PHL Food & Shops marketing and customer service manager, said in a statement. "Gita allows our guests to customize their experience by choosing how much or how little human interaction they want when having their food delivered."

The airport tweeted a photo of Gita, which was compared to a droid from the Star Wars films.

"No, you aren't at Tatooine Airport, but that is a robot at #PHLAirport delivering food from @PHLFoodandShops merchants," the airport tweeted. "Starting today, guests placing orders via OrderAtPHL might have their food brought to them by this Gita."

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The pilot program begins Tuesday and is scheduled to run through April.

Philadelphia has a complicated history with robots. In 2015, HitchBOT, a hitchhiking robot designed by Canadian researchers, had a planned tour of the United States come to a premature end when the robot was found dismantled and damaged by unknown vandals in the city.

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