WHILL, a start-up founded in 2012, is providing an AI-enabled autonomous wheelchair. Since its global showcase at the Consumer Electronics Shows (CES) in 2019, it has taken the Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) space by storm with its slick design and advanced technology. Its mission is to enhance the freedom and independence of those with restricted mobility such as people with disabilities and the elderly and make pedestrian travel fun.
WHILL’s futuristic design departs from conventional wheelchairs. Moreover, it is fitted with LIDAR sensors and cameras that detect and avoid obstructions and have automatic ‘stop’ functions, similar to autonomous-driving cars. Furthermore, WHILL leverages GPS and Bluetooth to enable users to summon the vehicle to them on its app. In combination with speech recognition technology, it also allows users to simply say their desired destination, and WHILL takes you there. As a result, WHILL makes it much easier to navigate crowded spaces, is less energy-intensive for the user, more comfortable, safe, and eliminates the need for assistance from others.
A major challenge as it moves into the B2B space is to develop the front-end system and operations with these B2B partners. WHILL so far has developed the hardware and software for its AI and back-end systems powering the vehicle. Related to safety, regulations may pose further obstacles. Autonomous vehicles and personal electric vehicles continue to face strict regulations around the world.