The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) has started a 12-month pilot programme of an application that helps visually impaired people navigate through its airports.

The new application uses mobile technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and real-time human interaction to assist visually impaired passengers.

It will be trialled at John F Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International and LaGuardia airports.

The free service will be available as a smartphone app paid by the Port Authority and offered by Aira.

It will be available on most phones and can also provide extra assistance from a customer representative to help the visually impaired individual manoeuvre through the airport.

The app will be available in most areas of the airport, except the TSA and CBP checkpoint areas.

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Passengers will need to download the app and sign up, following which they will be connected to a remote professional agent who can view the surroundings using the phone’s camera.

Agents will provide real-time audio descriptions, also using the GPS location, maps and rideshare capabilities.

Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said: “This customer service initiative is designed to provide assistance to our special needs population. We are always looking to find new ways to increase accessibility at the airports for all our customers.”

Port Authority chairman Kevin O’Toole added: “The Port Authority is strongly committed to a policy of inclusion across all our facilities. Our airports are access points to the world and this innovative use of technology will help ensure they remain accessible to all of our customers.”

Earlier this week, British Airways started its trial of WHILL’s autonomous electric mobility devices at New York’s John F Kennedy International (JFK) Airport.