Friday, 11 October 2019

ANA to expand self-driving wheelchair tests!

Japan's largest 5-star airline, All Nippon Airways has confirmed it will expand an innovative test of self-driving wheelchairs at Tokyo-Narita International Airport. These wheelchairs initially debuted in May for a series of successful tests, and ANA is now ready to take the next step in having the passengers experience the latest technology. ANA plans to conduct the test from October 9, until November 28. Current plans call for these models to be fully implemented at Narita Airport after 2020.

“ANA has always prioritized 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.”

Openness to new technology has long been central to ANA’s approach, and the airline has employed autonomous and self-driving machinery in the past. This time, 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, ANA employs approximately 300 wheelchairs 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 smart elements and adaptability make the wheelchairs a perfect fit for the innovative and technologically advanced Narita Airport.

Through this test, ANA will work to raise the bar on customer service and seek to implement the latest technology in ways that allow it to meet emerging consumer needs.

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