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Orlando Convention Center Pilots Moonwalkers

The artificial intelligence-driven devices enable event managers, event setup crews, and facility personnel to walk three times faster than normal

By Todd R. Berger

The staff at the sprawling, 7-million-square-foot Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, often has to do quite a bit of walking when events come to the facility. Now, the convention center is piloting Moonwalkers, artificial intelligence-driven devices that enable event managers, event setup crews, and facility personnel to walk three times faster than normal—up to 7 mph.

Moonwalkers help Orange County Convention Center staff speed around the center || Courtesy of Orange County Convention Center

“The Moonwalkers provide a safe and efficient option for our employees to get to their destinations in a shorter time,” says Mark Tester, executive director of the Orange County Convention Center. “This ultimately allows us to provide swifter and more efficient services to our clients and exhibitors.”

The pilot program began this spring for staff at the convention center to test out the speedy technology. The Moonwalkers work by using artificial intelligence to adapt to the user’s stride and walking style and by recognizing foot movements to toggle between a stationary mode—during which the wheels lock—and a walking mode. The Moonwalkers securely strap to the shoes of users—kind of like sandals over your shoes—and all staff in the pilot program undergo safety training to use the devices.

Considered one of the “Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices” under the Americans with Disability Act, Moon-walkers are in the same grouping as electric wheelchairs, powered scooters, and Segways. Shift Robotics introduced Moonwalkers in May of last year, and the Orange County Convention Center is the first such facility to pilot their use.

Tester says it will be more than just the staff using Moonwalkers who will get a kick out of them. “I think that attendees will be in awe at our ability to incorporate innovative technology into our practices,” he notes. “It will get attendees talking about the things the convention center has to offer and leave them wanting to come back to see where else we have adapted to the ever-evolving technology landscape.”