San Francisco – October 28, 2019 – WHILL, Japan Airlines (JAL) and Japan Airport Terminal (JAT) today announced the trial of the WHILL autonomous driving Personal Electric Vehicles (Personal EVs) at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan.
By joining with Japan Airlines and Japan Airport Terminal, WHILL aims to create the world’s first “smart airport” by providing seamless transportation to those with limited mobility, reducing wait times often experienced in airports. Travelers in Haneda Airport will be given the opportunity to move around the airport freely without the assistance of a staff member. WHILL’s Personal EVs come with sensors to identify obstructions and offer an automatic stop function, with other features including real-time gate and boarding time updates, which will be made available at a later date.
“We have been rolling out WHILL’s autonomous Personal EVs throughout select airports, and we are especially excited to be working with Japan Airlines and Japan Airport Terminal to provide travelers with limited mobility the best service possible at Haneda Airport,” said Satoshi Sugie, Founder and CEO of WHILL. “No one should have to stress over their travel experience – we’re offering a smooth, easy, enjoyable experience through our autonomous Personal EVs, with the goal of changing how people travel in the future.”
The implementation of the autonomous Personal EVs will help contribute to the company’s vision for an improved mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) model. There are many companies and new technologies that are currently innovating within the MaaS industry, but there has been limited innovation around moving shorter distances – especially for people with reduced mobility. WHILL aims to improve the current travel landscape for mobility device users by increasing their freedom and independence in airports, sports venues, shopping centers and public sidewalks.
“We aim to bring to life “smart airports” where a seamless travel experience is a reality for everyone, including those with mobility issues. Airport travel can cause feelings of stress for customers with mobility issues, and our goal is to alleviate these stresses with the autonomous Personal EVs. This pertains to the overall travel experience, not only in the airport and inflight, but the entire journey from home to destination, enriching the entire experience.” said Atsushi Maeda, Executive Officer, Airport Division of Japan Airlines. “By joining forces with WHILL and Japan Airport Terminal, we are able to show travelers the benefits of a program like this, and from a business perspective it opens up growth initiatives that we are excited to explore.”
WHILL is excited to be a partner in demonstrating the proof-of-concept for the Haneda Robotics Lab project around implementing robotics in society. Established in 2016, the activities of the lab are meant to help Japan Airport Terminal provide a safe and comfortable experience for airport visitors, while showcasing world-leading robotic technologies for airports.