Virtual airport to improve accessibility for passengers with additional mobility needs Image:Cranfield University

Technologies used improve the passenger experience in a way that is “safe, time and cost efficient”

Cranfield University researchers have created a virtual airport environment to study and improve the air travel experience for passengers with additional mobility needs.

One of the first uses of the environment will be to help improve wayfinding and navigation provision for passengers with additional mobility needs, including those with unseen disabilities.

Dr Thomas Budd, lecturer in Airport Planning and Management and academic lead of the Passenger experience laboratory, said:

“For passengers with additional mobility needs, navigating a busy airport can be an especially tiring and stressful experience.

“Using immersive technologies in this way enables us to experiment with different designs and new technologies to improve the passenger experience in a way that is safe, time and cost efficient.”

The 3D environment can be configured to replicate different design layouts, ambient conditions and levels of activity within a bespoke or simulated real world airport.

Cranfield is working with Theia Immersive, a spin-out company from the Connected Places Catapult. Theia Immersive specialises in the use of immersive technology for designing inclusive and accessible spaces.

Michael Calver, co-founder and ceo of Theia Immersive, said:

“Immersive technology is set to help change the way in which spaces, places, products and services are designed, enabling designers to better consider the needs of each end user.”

A mobile and web browser version of the virtual airport environment – showing a full range of airport spaces, features and facilities – can be accessed here.