Panasonic

WHILL NEXT, an app-controlled self-driving wheelchair is being tested in one of Japan’s main airports.

Haneda Airport, located outside Tokyo, is testing the app-controlled chair so that it can take users around the airport and bring their luggage in a separate wireless vehicle behind them.

The airport is hoping that the system will be in place in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The smart wheelchair has the ability to link to sensor-equipped luggage carts that automatically follow the wheelchair without getting lost and uses sensors and image recognition to detect obstacles and navigate the airport.

Panasonic says that the WHILL NEXT can identify its own position, select routes and move to destinations through smartphones. The chair will be able to travel specifically to shops or boarding gates and if it senses a potential collision, it will stop automatically.

The wheelchairs can also connect to each other with sensors and even stick together and return to a location to reduce the workload for airport staff.