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Self-driving wheelchairs ready for passenger tests at Tokyo-Narita Airport

New self-driving wheelchairs being tested at Tokyo-Narita International Airport are capable of independently detecting and avoiding obstacles.

The latest round of tests for self-driving wheelchairs have been completed at Tokyo-Narita International Airport by All Nippon Airways (ANA).

The wheelchairs, which were initially debuted in May 2019, are now ready to take the next step in having passengers experience the latest technology.

“ANA has always prioritised making our services accessible and we strive to set the standard for both technological innovation and accessibility so these tests will go a long way towards making sure that the full benefits of Narita Airport are open to all passengers,” said Juichi Hirasawa, Senior Vice President of ANA. “The self-driving wheelchairs integrate the latest smart technology to help those that are unfamiliar with Narita Airport reach their gates on time.

“ANA aims to simplify all aspects of the travel experience and these self-driving wheelchairs will help take some of the stress out of making connections at the airport.”

Testing the electric self-driving wheelchair at Narita Airport in May 2019

The self-driving wheelchair tests are being conducted at Tokyo-Narita Airport because of the airport’s status as a prominent international hub. With large distances between gates separating some connecting flights, approximately 300 wheelchairs are needed per day to help passengers who need assistance reach their gates quickly and conveniently.

The self-driving electric wheelchairs being tested are capable of independently detecting and avoiding people and obstacles on the way to their destinations. The wheelchairs function by following a predetermined leader to a common destination and ANA staff will be on hand to serve as guides.

The next tests with passengers are planned from 9 October until 28 November 2019 and the wheelchairs are aimed to be fully implemented at Narita Airport after 2020.

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