Abu Dhabi Airport begins trialing self-driving wheelchairs

Mobile-restricted visitors will soon be able to get around Abu Dhabi International Airport on autonomous drive system wheelchairs.

Etihad and Abu Dhabi Airports Trial Autonomous Wheelchairs. Image courtesy of Etihad Airways

Airport travel for those with mobility restrictions is about to get easier. Etihad Airways and Abu Dhabi Airports have partnered to trial self-driving wheelchairs at Abu Dhabi Airport.

The trial is also in collaboration with personal electric vehicle supplier WHILL and information technology company SITA. 

The trial, which comes ahead of the airport’s move to the new Midfield Terminal, continues until the end of 2019.

Mobile-restricted passengers and visitors will be able to test out the wheelchairs in the trial’s final stages.

Wheelchairs are installed with sensors  so obstacles can be avoid as the wheelchair makes it way around the airport. There are also plans to include extra features such as real-time gate and boarding time updates.

The self-driving wheelchairs will also return themselves to the collection point after delivering passengers to their destination.

Etihad said in a statement that it is exploring further technologies that can ease the stress of travelling for guests with other impairments.

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