British Airways to trial autonomous wheelchairs

Date:4 March 2020 Author: Kyro Mitchell Tags:, ,

As airports get bigger and more advanced, getting around them in an efficient manner is becoming increasingly difficult, especially for those who suffer from a disability.

To mitigate this issue, British Airways has released plans to trial a fully autonomous wheelchair.

The all-electric, autonomous wheelchairs are produced by Japanese technology firm, WHILL, and are able to self-drive, navigate around obstacles without any human input, and are capable of finding its way back to the charging stations by itself. To navigate around the airport using the autonomous wheelchairs, all users need to do is tap on the display where they would like to go, and the wheelchair will take them there.

Image credit: British airways.


According to Ricardo Vidal, the head of innovation at British Airways, “Our customers tell us they would like greater independence and control over their journey through the airport, so we were keen to trial autonomous devices and see our customers response to the very latest mobility technology in a real airport environment.’’

Autonomous airport wheelchairs aren’t exactly a new invention, as the high-tech wheelchairs have been trailed in other airports around the world, but British Airways says this is the first officially trial by JFK airport in New York.

“Over the next few months, we will be collaborating on a further trial at our busy home hub at Heathrow Terminal 5 to gather more feedback and explore the introduction of this technology alongside our team of customer service professionals to provide a truly seamless and accessible airport experience.” Says Vidal.

Image: British Airways

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