New technology tested to improve airport operations to improve visitor experience

With summer on the way and memorial day around the corner, many people are going to be traveling soon.

Many are going to be flying. There is a new technology for those with mobility issues that could make getting around the airport a little easier.

On Wednesday, companies were able to showcase their equipment and how they could streamline operations at the airport.

“So we’re doing tests that several major airports we’ve done in Atlanta, Dallas, Toronto, San Jose, and several others,” Whill North America Business Director Shannon Fain told FOX17.

Full display of the latest and latest technology at West Michigan Aviation Academy.

“So we are a company that makes mobility devices to help people travel, you know, vacations trips, but also day to day needs,” Fain added.

Whill and two other companies: Aurrigo and Sunflower Labs, are part of a pilot program called The Ford Launchpad for Innovative Technologies and Entrepreneurship or FLITE for short.

“We have a vibrant environment with passengers, aircraft, cars, taxis, Ubers, and lifts. And we wanted to somehow leverage that to provide benefits to startup companies, companies, and maybe a mature stage that just needed that kind of live airport. The kind of test environment is really kind of, you know, making their products better, and ultimately, potentially scale those solutions on a global scale, “said Alex Peric, Gerald R. Ford International Airport Chief Operating Officer.

During Whill’s testing period at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, they’ve been able to close to 200 people using this autonomous personal device.

All the riders did was get in and tell the device where to go next. Fain says over 90% of riders gave high ratings.

“So you don’t have to steer, you don’t have to accelerate breaks or anything. It has sensors built-in here in the front and underneath that can detect if there’s something in the way, and it’ll stop,” Fain said.

The company currently has two chairs at the airport. Shannon says at one airport in Japan with 12 of these self-guiding wheelchairs; They had about 27,000 rides a year. The technology, he says, could also help people who live and visit West Michigan.

“One of the big things is we don’t have to compete with ourselves as companies that push people into wheelchairs,” Fain said. “So we’re pushing companies for a tool rather than competition. So they could use us for the short, you know, guy hurt his knee. You know, that’s it, no special medical equipment.”

The self-guided wheelchair will be tested at Ford Airport through Memorial Day weekend. Other companies include a drone for security and technology to move equipment.

At this point, it is unclear if any of it will be coming to the airport permanently.

Southwest Airlines did surprise all companies offering free flights to other airports while continuing their testing.

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