ANA trials new self-driving wheelchairs

All Nippon Airways (ANA) is continuing its efforts to increase accessibility through technological leadership with the latest round of tests for 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 9 October 9, until 28 November. Current plans call for these models to be fully implemented at Narita Airport after 2020.

“ANA aims to simplify all aspects of the travel experience”

“ANA has always prioritised 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.”

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.

Furthermore, the wheelchairs 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.

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