b'PASSENGER TRANSPORTYWG53Renaud emphasizes that the service benefits travelers andthat this program is ready to roll out to conceivably every airport airports. For passengers, it eliminates the need to rely on someonein the worldanywhere where theres that kind of a demand, else to push them to their gate, and then being stuck there. Itanywhere where passengers require some level of wheelchair fosters independence for passengers to navigate through theassistance to circumnavigate the airport, says Renaud. airport, he adds. There are also tangible, commercial benefits forCurrently, the company is running additional trials at other North airports. Now, these passengers can enjoy all the amenities, heAmerican airports and one in Europe. Renaud reports that after explains. They can shop, they can move to the restaurants freely,successful trials at several North American airports (see Facts and they can circumvent the entire landscape of the airport by utilizingFigures box on Page 48), WHILL is in discussions about moving this kind of mobility assistance program. forward with full-time programs similar to YWGs. The company In some airports, WHILL augments its autonomous service withalso plans to work directly with airlines. wheelchairs passengers can drive themselves. With this option, travelers dont have to stick to designated autonomous routes. Renaud lauds YWG for recognizing the current and future needs of passengers and working with WHILL to accommodate them. Especially at large airports, travelers need to be able to move efficiently to their gate in a reasonable amount of time. Were really appreciative of the fact that Winnipeg stepped up and stepped forward and enabled this first commercial application (in North America), he remarks. And its really our hope to be able to now take that to multiple other airports and utilize the success of the program in Winnipeg to show other airports whats possible.Growing the FootprintAt YWG, the Airports Authority plans to offer more wheelchairs as usage increases and the autonomous technology continues to mature. It also looks forward to expanding the service from curb to gate, though this will require more time and work to map additional areas. The COVID pandemic prompted WHILL to address YWGs need for wheelchair assistance from the curbside to the check-in counter to comply with the new guidelines posed by the Canadian Government Accessibility Regulation. Since then, the team has been taking a phased approach and implemented service from check-in counters to departure dates as the first step. Extending use of autonomous wheelchairs to elevators is a key next step. WHILL is currently working with the Airports Authority and its elevator maintenance providers to define the requirements of a system upgrade. Thatll really open up a lot of other larger-scale airport requirements, Renaud notes. Expanding the current service to include the lower level at YWG will connect travelers to baggage claim and arrivals areas. For WHILL, the ultimate objective at YWG was to prove the commercial viability of its new and unique service. Our expectation is AirportImprovement.comMarch | April 2023'