Tokyo's Haneda Airport is adding self-driving electric wheelchairs for social distancing — here's how they work

WHILLWHILL Autonomous Drive System.
  • Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport will be using Whill’s autonomous personal mobility chairs at its airports to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus in the airport.
  • Whill has already completed 11 test trials with almost 400 passengers at various airports around the world.
  • The self-driving device will be able to shuttle visitors from gates three to seven before driving itself back to a designated Whill Station.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport will begin using Whill’s autonomous personal mobility service at its airports to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus in the airport while supporting individuals with reduced mobility.

Whill’s self-driving device will be used to shuttle individual travellers at the airport with “mobility limitations” from departure gates three to seven. Once the mobility device has reached its designated gate destination, it will automatically drive itself back to its designated Whill Station.

“In the coronavirus era, we believe services that support mobility while maintaining social distancing will accelerate to replace human labour with robots and autonomous driving technologies,” Whill CEO Satoshi Sugie said in a statement.

Yokohama, Japan-based Whill was founded in 2012 to disrupt the wheelchair and scooter market, according to the company. In 2018, Whill partnered with Scootaround – another personal mobility maker – to create a greater platform by integrating a rental service.

Whill has already completed 11 test trials of its autonomous devices at airports such as Dallas/Fort Worth International, John F. Kennedy International, and Abu Dhabi International, totalling almost 400 passengers.


Besides the obvious mobility convenience, Whill’s system also serves a social distancing purpose by replacing the need for a wheelchair service airport employee.

WHILLWHILL Autonomous Drive System.

The airport-capable mobility device also has a small baggage holder behind the seat back, allowing for the easy transport of smaller items as well.

WHILLWHILL Autonomous Drive System.

A trip on the autonomous device can be started and completed by pressing a few buttons on a small touchscreen on the left arm, according to a YouTube video uploaded by Whill.

WHILLWHILL Autonomous Drive System.

Source: YouTube


The mobility service is the “first of its kind” to be used in airports, according to a YouTube video by Whill.

WHILLWHILL Autonomous Drive System.

Source: YouTube


Whill also believes its products can be used in frontiers beyond just airports.

WHILLWHILL Autonomous Drive System.

This includes locations like hospitals, malls, museums, and parks, according to Whill’s website.

WHILLWHILL Autonomous Drive System.

Source: Whill


Whill is also selling two of its products — the Model A and Model Ci — directly to private customers

WHILLWHILL Autonomous Drive System.

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