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Virtual airport to improve disability access

Screenshot of VR environment at the airport

Researchers at Cranfield University have created a virtual airport environment to study and improve the air travel experience for passengers with mobility disabilities. 

The virtual airport, one of the first of its kind, will be used to conduct research as part of the Passenger experience laboratory in the new £67 million Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC), currently under construction at Cranfield.

One of the first uses of the environment will be to help improve wayfinding and navigation provision for passengers with mobility disabilities, including those with unseen disabilities.

Dr Thomas Budd, Lecturer in Airport Planning and Management and Academic Lead of the Passenger experience laboratory, said: “For passengers with additional mobility needs, navigating a busy airport can be an especially tiring and stressful experience. Using immersive technologies in this way enables us to experiment with different designs and new technologies to improve the passenger experience in a way that is safe, time and cost efficient.”

The 3D environment can be configured to replicate different design layouts, ambient conditions and levels of activity within a bespoke or simulated real world airport. 

A mobile and web browser version of the virtual airport environment – showing a full range of airport spaces, features and facilities.

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