OmniServ, an airline and airport assistance services provider, and Heathrow are introducing new multi-passenger electric vehicles – the Multimobby – which can carry up to seven people plus an operator through the airport’s terminal buildings quickly, efficiently and safely in a move that will significantly enhance the assistance services provided to passengers with mobility issues or other disabilities.
Heathrow is the world’s second busiest international passenger airport, which in 2017, welcomed around 1.25 million passengers who required extra assistance, or Persons with Reduced Mobility (PRM). This official EU designation includes people who have difficulty walking, may be wheelchair users, or who may have other, less obvious disabilities.
Given the sheer size and scale of the terminal buildings, such passengers often appreciate the option of being transported in special vehicles.
Not your average ‘golf carts’
The Multimobby is made by Netherlands-based company Special Mobility. It’s operator and passenger-friendly and highly manoeuvrable, with the ability to turn on the spot, and fits into Heathrow’s lifts. An elevated driver seat allows for an enhanced view of the terminal, while front and rear laser scanners automatically slow down and stop the vehicle if they detect a possible collision with people or objects.
The people movers have raised sides to prevent passengers from putting their arms outside the vehicle, while the wheels are concealed so pedestrians cannot get their feet under them. The vehicle will stop automatically if a door is accidentally opened during operation.
Frank Bod, managing director of Special Mobility, commented: “The Multimobby has been designed and developed in cooperation with OmniServ and Heathrow. It has become a unique people mover for PRM users offering vast benefits compared to the more traditional ‘golf carts’.”
Jonathan Coen, director of customer relations and service at Heathrow, said: “An airport the size of Heathrow can be difficult to manoeuvre through and these Multimobbys will make a real difference to our passengers requiring assistance, particularly those with mobility issues or disabilities.”
“Investing GBP 23 million in an upgraded contract with OmniServ”
Coen added: “The introduction of technology like Multimobbys forms part of our wider efforts to transform our assistance service – including investing GBP 23 million in an upgraded contract with OmniServ, and help us deliver the high levels of passenger service people have rightly come to expect from us.”