The Haneda International Airport in Tokyo is testing self-driving chairs to help people who may need assistance getting around. The personal mobility machine is basically a wheelchair that doesn’t need anyone to push it. The chair can carry one person for up to 660 yards at about 2 miles per hour usually going from security clearance to the boarding gate. The autonomous wheelchair comes from mobility company Whill who had previously tested the self-driving chair at New York’s JFK airport.
The self-driving wheelchairs are equipped with cameras, sensors, and anti-collision technology which help navigate the airport and avoid anything that may get in the way. For instance, if a person jumps out in front of the chair unexpectedly, it will automatically stop. Riders use a touch screen to set their preferred destination anywhere within the airport. The chair runs on lithium-ion batteries and will automatically return to its charging station once the ride is over.
Self-Driving Wheel Chairs Can Help With Social Distancing
The autonomous wheel chairs also have another goal. According to WHILL Chief Executive Satoshi Sugie “Robotics and autonomous driving technology that reduce the need for human labor are a good match for these times of “living with” the coronavirus. “
“We are rapidly developing our business in order to help restore a world where people can enjoy moving around with peace of mind,” Sugie told The Associated Press.
The autonomous wheelchairs are open to anyone needing help walking long distances at Terminal One at Haneda airport. Whill is hoping to test the chairs at more airports around the globe along with other places such as hospitals, parks, and shopping centers.
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