Robots are becoming an ever-increasing presence in our lives, and today one will board a commercial airline as a passenger for the first time. According to the Los Angeles International Airport's Twitter feed, a humanoid robot named Athena will take off on a commercial Lufthansa flight to Germany this afternoon as a paid passenger. Athena is going to be accompanied by two scientists and is a full humanoid robot with a head, arms, and legs. It remains to be seen if Athena is the kind of passenger you'll want to sit next to, but at least on this flight it sounds like it'll be flanked by scientists instead of normal jet-setters.
Just a few minutes ago, Athena started the check-in process at LAX, something that was captured and broadcast via the airport's Twitter account. It looks like Athena somehow came by a German passport (or it could simply be a passport for the accompanying scientist):
At the end of the day, though, Athena taking up a seat on a commercial airline isn't wildly different than anyone else paying for an extra seat for large, bulky, or fragile cargo — musicians commonly will pay for a seat for their instruments, for example. Despite that technicality, however, passengers and other airport patrons probably got a kick out of seeing a robot head through the hellish process that is airport security.