Japan Airlines (JAL) launched the world's first autonomous driving mobility service for elderly and disabled passengers at Haneda airport on July 1. The self-driving vehicle can bring passengers to the destination while sensing the pedestrians around on the way. There is no need for staff to push the wheelchair-like car, which helps to ensure a "social distance" under the current epidemic situation.

The Japanese manufacturer WHILL, specialized in manufacturing personal electric vehicles, developed the autonomous motor used in this service. They set up a stand-by place named "WHILL station" near security checkpoint B of Haneda airport, with three autonomous vehicles introduced in use.

WHILL Autonomous Mobility Service in use (Photo: WHILL)

Passengers can put the luggage on the rack behind the motor and fasten the safety belt after sitting, then enter the destination of the terminal on the device equipped with the wheelchair. The vehicle will move automatically and take the passengers to the destination. Upon arrival, it will automatically return to the WHILL station, so there is no need for passengers to bring it back. The service is free of charge.

The terminal 1 of Haneda airport that JAL is using is about 800 meters long, and there are many passengers in need of wheelchairs. JAL has been promoting measures to upgrade airport services with a theme called "JAL SMART AIRPORT," including using the latest technology to shorten the waiting time and make the stay more worthwhile at the airport. The introduction of the autonomous vehicle is also one of the relevant measures.