An airline is testing technology to make travel easier for people with disabilities

Oct 10, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

For a number of months now, All Nippon Airways has been testing personal mobility, self-driving electric wheelchairs at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (NRT). The test is part of the airline’s larger plan to help increase accessibility options at the busy hub.

Developed through a partnership between Panasonic and WHILL, a Japanese tech startup, the robotic chairs operate in a follow-the-leader fashion to reach a destination. The chairs are also capable of detecting and avoiding obstacles, though airline employees serve as guides.

Until now, testing hasn’t included actual passengers, but All Nippon Airways (often called ANA) just announced it’s expanding the tests so passengers can experience this innovative technology firsthand. The tests are scheduled to run from Oct. 9 through Nov. 28, with the hope that the chairs can be made available airport-wide after 2020.

(Photo courtesy of ANA)

Senior vice president Juichi Hirasawa said in a statement on Wednesday that “ANA has always prioritized making our services accessible, and we strive to set the standard for both technological innovation and accessibility so these tests will go a long way towards making sure that the full benefits of Narita Airport are open to all passengers.”

ANA uses nearly 300 wheelchairs per day to help transport passengers between gates. The robotic chairs will hopefully help in getting passengers to their connections on time and in a more efficient manner.

Air travel can be stressful for everyone, especially if you’re navigating the rules of emotional support animals or are traveling with an implant or prosthetic, for example. So it’s incredibly encouraging to see a major airline taking the initiative to advocate and innovate for travelers with disabilities.

Featured image courtesy of iurii/Shutterstock

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.