Intelligent Personal Electric Vehicles maker WHILL has begun the trials of its autonomous driving Personal EVs at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Winnipeg Richardson International Airport.
This will be the second wave of WHILL autonomous trials, following those at Haneda Airport, Tokyo, and Abu Dhabi Airport earlier in 2019, and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol previously. Trials in Dallas took place November 14 and 15 (both semi and full autonomous), while Winnipeg semi-autonomous trials will take place on December 12 and 13.
After arriving at the airport, travelers with restricted mobility will be able to navigate the WHILL airport model through the airport to their gate, and once arrived, hit ‘return’, allowing the Personal EV to return itself to the original docking station. Full autonomous trials are slightly different from semi-autonomous trials as the WHILL airport model will freely drive itself to the desired destination upon the passenger selecting the required gate on the device, and then back to the original docking station. The WHILL airport model independently detects and avoids obstacles throughout the airport, including other people and objects, with sensors and automatic brakes.
“Travelers with reduced mobility usually have to wait longer times for an employee to bring them a wheelchair and be pushed to their gate, reducing their flexibility while traveling. We are now providing an opportunity for those travelers to have a sense of independence as they move about the airport and get from point A to point B as smoothly as possible. Our trials have proven to be successful in other countries and we’re excited to bring this initiative to North America for the first time,” said Satoshi Sugie, founder and CEO of WHILL.