Winnipeg Richardson International Airport is excited to welcome WHILL Inc. and Scootaround Personal Transportation Solutions back to the terminal this fall to continue testing their innovative self-driving wheelchairs.
YWG initially partnered with the two organizations in 2019, making us the first airport in North America to trial the autonomous mobility devices from check-in counters to boarding gates. Now, preparations are well underway to make them available to passengers permanently.
“We’re extremely proud to continue to work with WHILL and Scootaround to develop their autonomous wheelchair at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport,” said Winnipeg Airports Authority President & CEO Nick Hays. “We’re told that by 2038, one in three travellers will need some form of assistance. The tests being done here today will help us meet the future needs of our community.
Throughout previous trials, developers mapped the domestic and international departures area and tested the device's ability to navigate the entire post-security area of the airport on its own. The final trial, which started at the end of September and will last four weeks, is testing the wheelchair’s ability to transport a passenger through their entire pre-departure process: from the airline check-in counters, through security, to any restaurant, shop and other service and finally the departure gates, and then back to its home base all at the push of a button.
This ground-breaking technology will help further enhance accessibility at YWG and provide a more inclusive, barrier-free airport environment. On top of improving service for passengers, the autonomous wheelchairs will also allow for more independence by making services offered post-security more accessible to everyone.
Once the trial wraps up in October, travellers won't need to wait much longer to be able to use the devices any time they catch a flight out of YWG. Full implementation is on track to be in place by early December, which coincides with the start of the busy holiday travel season.