Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and Axxicom Airport Caddy are launching an experiment with self-riding wheelchairs this week. The wheelchairs, equipped with smart technology from WHILL Autonomous Mobility, are already being used successfully at major airports such as Tokyo International Airport in Japan.
The wheelchair service should improve customer satisfaction and contribute to Schiphol’s objective to make traveling as easy as possible for people with reduced mobility. During the pilot project, a number of travelers will be taken to their gates in autonomous wheelchairs. The innovative vehicles will support the current passenger assistants, making their work more efficient.
‘The self-propelled wheelchairs are a solution for older travelers or people who cannot travel long distances for medical reasons. But also for passengers who are concerned about whether they’ll find their way,” explains Vincent Kas, managing director at Axxicom Airport Caddy.
The self-riding wheelchair has a luggage rack at the rear where hand luggage can be placed. The traveler can then enter a destination at Schiphol on the service screen, for example, the gate for boarding.
The wheelchair then drives independently to this destination. After arrival at the destination, the passenger disembarks, and the chair will drive itself back to the starting point. Cameras and sensors in the chair monitor people, obstacles, and the space around it to avoid ‘collisions’. There is an emergency button and a seat belt to ensure safety for the passenger.
The experiment with the self-riding wheelchairs will last one week. After evaluation, the initiators will decide whether the WHILL wheelchairs will become a permanent service at Schiphol Airport.
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