British Airways has started its trial of WHILL’s autonomous electric mobility devices at New York’s John F Kennedy International (JFK) Airport.
With this trial, British Airways will be the first airline to test electric mobility devices in North America.
British Airways stated that around half a million passengers with a requirement for special assistance use the airline and it is expected that the number will increase by 10% by next year.
This move is part of the airline’s strategy to explore new ways to provide a smooth travel experience to all its passengers.
The autonomous mobility devices are fitted with anti-collision technology and allow passengers to navigate to their desired destination at the airport.
They are capable of manoeuvring through the terminal from the check-in area to the boarding gate, without the need for manual assistance from the airport support team or the passenger’s travel companions.
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The device also permits customers to change the destination multiple times to explore the airport on the way to the boarding gate.
In addition, the device is capable of returning to its original docking station independently after taking passengers to the required gate.
British Airways Innovation head Ricardo Vidal said: “Our customers tell us they would like greater independence and control over their journey through the airport, so we were keen to trial autonomous devices and see our customers response to the very latest mobility technology in a real airport environment.
“Over the next few months, we will be collaborating on a further trial at our busy home hub at Heathrow Terminal 5 to gather more feedback and explore the introduction of this technology alongside our team of customer service professionals to provide a truly seamless and accessible airport experience.”
Last November, Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in the US and Winnipeg Richardson International Airport (YWG) in Canada unveiled details from their trials of WHILL’s autonomous driving personal electric vehicles (EVs).