Wheelchairs are a common sight in predominantly transit airports such as Abu Dhabi or Dubai. In fact, I have witnessed some heated discussion in the blogosphere where it is alleged that passengers of a certain nationality tend to abuse the wheelchair facility.
It is understandable that wheelchairs and the guides impose a cost on the airline. Moreover, it is not ideal for the passengers as well, if they want to explore the airport – the lounges or the duty free shops. Clearly, there should be a better solution both for the airline and the passengers.
Enter Self-Driving Wheelchairs
Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH) is looking to introduce autonomous wheelchairs for passengers requiring assistance. This is in conjunction with Etihad. While there is no timeline available on the formal introduction, trials are being conducted through rest of the year.
Click below if you want to see how the wheelchair looks like.
This looks very interesting. The device contains sensors to avoid obstacles and will safely take you to your desired destination. The airport has been mapped electronically such that wheelchairs are always in sync.
The wheelchairs are reported to have a maximum speed of 6 km/h and also have a joystick for manual control.
Bryan Thompson, CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports said
“We hope to be able allow restricted-mobility passengers and their families freedom of movement around Abu Dhabi International Airport, and the opportunity to enjoy all the airport has to offer. With the beginning of these trials, we hope to ensure that this can be used safely and securely by passengers from across the globe.”