Pilot with self-driving wheelchairs at Schiphol

Anyone who has ever been to Schiphol has seen them, the trolleys on which disabled passengers are transported to their destination at the airport. They look a bit like a golf cart and take up quite a bit of space. Especially when it is busy at the airport – and that is almost continuous these days – this can cause quite a bit of annoyance among other passengers. Well, Schiphol and Axxicom Airport Caddy are testing self-propelled wheelchairs this week. These are not only more compact, but can also take passengers completely independently to the gate or another destination at the airport. And when the passenger has been delivered, the smart wheelchair also returns to its point of departure itself.

Smart wheelchair with luggage compartment

The test, or pilot, with the self-propelled wheelchairs at Schiphol will initially take one week. During the test phase, a number of travelers will be taken to their gate with the self-propelled wheelchairs. The wheelchairs thus support the current passenger assistants, so that they can be used more efficiently.

It is the intention that the passenger himself in the wheelchair, via the screen, selects the destination, such as the gate. The wheelchair also has a hand luggage rack. Thanks to built-in smart sensors and cameras that can detect people, the wheelchair ensures that other passengers and obstacles are avoided. In the unlikely event that a problem should arise, the passenger can press the emergency button for assistance.

Proven technology

The self-propelled wheelchairs are not entirely new. They have been deployed for some time at other major international airports, such as Tokyo’s. For those who forgot, Schiphol is the ninth airport in the world in terms of passenger numbers that depart, arrive or transit each year (more than 52 million).

“We want to offer all travelers a pleasant travel experience at Schiphol. That is why we are testing this innovation. With the self-propelled wheelchairs, we are exploring how travelers with reduced mobility can find their way independently and safely at the airport. In doing so, we are responding to the needs of this target group to be able to travel independently,” said Patricia Vitalis, director of Airport Operations & Aviation Partnerships at Schiphol.

Images: Schiphol

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