British Airways is testing how to better help passengers with mobility needs and just deployed a fleet of self-driving wheelchairs.
“Almost half a million customers who require additional assistance fly with British Airways each year and with this number due to rise by 10 per cent by 2021 the airline is exploring new ways to offer a seamless travel experience, including trialling self-driving, self-navigating, electric vehicles from Japanese technology firm, WHILL,” says British Airways.
The autonomous wheelchair design is based on Whill’s Model Ci design, a vehicle that debuted at CES 2018 and was to retail for around $4,000.
That design was adapted by British Airways and deployed at JFK to test new accessibility options.
Using anti-collision and self-driving tech, it will drop passengers off at the boarding gate, without any human assistance.
Passengers can select multiple destinations on a built-in display.
Once the ride is finished, the self-driving wheelchair will return on its own to the docking station for charging.
In the next few months, British Airways will expand the autonomous wheelchair test to Heathrow Terminal Five, one of the busiest travel hubs, so you might see one on your next vacation.