Picture: A&K Robotics

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has given its passengers a glimpse of the future. Long walks to distant boarding gates are often impossible for those with reduced mobility, therefore, they often rely on airport staff for help. 

Now, A&K Robotics has trialed its self-driving pod at Concourse C’s departure level to help deal with some of these issues.  

The Atlanta trial used the pods to give people with reduced mobility (PRM) an introduction to how the technology can help them independently move around, get to the gate or visit airport service outlets and other amenities. 

With more than 100 million passengers moving through the airport annually (pre-COVID), it seems like a logical place to demonstrate what technology can do in crowded areas. 

Founded in 2015, Vancouver-based A&K specializes in advanced navigation systems. Its intelligent navigation technology does not need any external infrastructure and can find its way around moving objects. A&K claims its autonomous electric pods are the first in the industry to safely navigate through crowded places, such as airports, while avoiding people and obstacles. 

The pods are programmed to operate at a moderate walking pace and have sensors to adjust speed when approaching objects or people to stop, slow down or drive around them. A&K says that passengers who need assistance will be able to hail the self-driving pods using a mobile app. 

Jessica Yip is A&K chief operating officer has said, “To see our innovation being considered by Atlanta Airport to enhance the travel experience of passengers with limited mobility is exhilarating. We are looking forward to collaborating with the airport authority and the Southwest team to bring the best experience possible for the PRMs.” 

Requests for internal transport at airports usually come from passengers who can walk short distances but struggle on longer ones. It could be due to various factors, be it age, medical, exhaustion, or simply needing help on a tough day but all solutions are to help passengers for an easier journey during their travels.