Inclusive mobility in airports

July 11, 2023
Autonomous mobility chairs are moving more passengers reliably, efficiently, and safely through crowded airport terminals, Satoshi Sugie writes for AviationPros.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - With labor shortages and technology advancing rapidly, airports and airlines across North America are adopting new mobility services like autonomous (self-driving) power wheelchairs or manual power chairs that are operated by passengers needing assistance. These innovations reduce the need to fulfill wheelchair push requests and allow airline passengers to travel more freely by autonomously transporting them to their gates or allowing them to ‘drive’ themselves. While at first glance this may seem like a novel innovation – interesting, but not necessary – the changing landscape of the airline industry and the demographics of its passengers make the adoption of this technology imperative for all airports, regardless of size and location, Satoshi Sugie writes for AviationProsContinue reading original article.

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

11 July 2023 - Satoshi Sugie, co-founder and CEO of Redwood City, California's WHILL, provides an autonomous mobility vehicle with a touch panel. Sugie notes that the system allows passengers to make stops at predetermined locations like restrooms, stores, and restaurants.

The WHILL autonomous system, Sugie writes, that the vehicle will drop off passengers at their gate and return to the home station, and will ferry passengers from gate-to-gate for connecting flights, or from the arrival gate to exit the airport.

"Both self-driving (autonomous) and drivable chairs will fundamentally change the way we move people through airports and other public spaces, Sugie writes. "The essential problem for airport operations and airlines is how to move passengers from point A to point B and keep the airport running efficiently as an overall system. This must increasingly consider, and be inclusive of, passengers needing mobility assistance. Efficient movement is important during all legs of the journey, including check-in, security screening, transport to the departure gate, arrival gate to baggage claim, and baggage claim to ground transportation."

Related: Barcelona airport launches trial of automated guide vehicles for cargo transport

Related: Fraport tests autonomous baggage and cargo tractor

Related: Pyka unveils its large autonomous electric aircraft Pelican Cargo

Jamie Whitney, Senior Editor
Military + Aerospace Electronics

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