Abu Dhabi Airports has partnered with Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, to launch a trial of autonomous wheelchairs at Abu Dhabi International Airport, in collaboration with the air transport communications and information technology company, SITA, and the personal electric vehicle supplier, WHILL. The autonomous wheelchairs will allow passengers with restricted mobility to navigate easier through Abu Dhabi International Airport.
The trial at Abu Dhabi International Airport will be ahead of the introduction of the autonomous wheelchairs at the new Midfield Terminal. With the new technology, passengers will be able to access airport facilities easily and effectively, whether arriving to, departing from, or transiting through Abu Dhabi International Airport. The new technology is the first of its kind to be used by an airport within the region.
The wheelchair trials, which will take place throughout the remainder of 2019, will map the airport to ensure that passengers can use the new technology effectively upon its official introduction. The wheelchairs will offer passengers up-to-date boarding times and gate information, an automatic brake function, voice activated features for users who may be visually impaired, and sensors to detect any obstacles in the path of the wheelchair.
Speaking about the trials, Chief Executive Officer of Abu Dhabi Airports, Bryan Thompson, said: "Abu Dhabi Airports is committed to providing an optimal passenger experience to those using our airports, and ensuring that our facilities are easy to access for all is an important part of that commitment."
"With the beginning of these trials, we hope to be able allow restricted mobility passengers and their families freedom of movement around Abu Dhabi International Airport, and the opportunity to enjoy all the airport has to offer. We have worked hard with our partners, including Etihad Airways, SITA, and WHILL to bring this technology to our airport passengers. With the beginning of these trials, we hope to ensure that this can be used safely and securely by passengers from across the globe," concluded Thompson.
Abdulwahid Amiri, Acting Senior Vice President of Technology at Abu Dhabi Airports, said: "We continue to invest heavily in digitalization and new technologies at our airports, as part of our commitment to delivering a smooth and seamless passenger experience through the implementation of industry leading infrastructure and services. Autonomous wheelchairs are amongst the latest innovations we have implemented as a company, which complement our investments in advanced immigration, security, and baggage handling technologies."
Porters will remain available to provide wheelchair access to passengers arriving at Abu Dhabi International Airport who require mobility assistance.