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Abu Dhabi International Airport Rolls Out Autonomous Wheelchairs

passenger using autonomous wheelchairs at Abu Dhabi International Airport
Photo: Etihad Airways

Abu Dhabi International Airport has launched the semi and fully-autonomous WHILL wheelchairs for people with mobility disabilities, in collaboration with personal electric vehicle supplier WHILL, the developer of autonomous wheelchairs and information technology company SITA.

The WHILL ‘Autonomous Drive System’ wheelchairs enable passengers with mobility disabilities to move around the airport independently, without the need for assistance. The introduction of the autonomous option provides guests with the choice of freedom or to have traditional assistance via a team of dedicated porters, which will remain available.

The chairs are fitted with sensors to identify potential obstacles and features an automatic stop function. In the future, the chairs will be fitted with real-time gate and boarding time updates.

After arriving at the airport, travellers with mobility disabilities will be able to navigate their way through the airport to the gate with the WHILL autonomous wheelchair, and once arrived, hit ‘return’ to allow the wheelchair to return itself to the original docking station.

Based in Yokohama, Japan, is one of a growing number of startups and established technology companies tackling the massive market of assistive technologies.

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