British Airways chooses Aurrigo to trial eco-friendly driverless vehicles at Heathrow Airport
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As part of its continued £6.5bn investment for customers, British Airways is trialling autonomous, emissions-free baggage vehicles at its home at Heathrow to help the airline further improve punctuality and depart every flight on time.
British Airways currently operates up to 800 flights a day to and from Heathrow, transporting around 75,000 bags back and forth between its baggage halls and aircraft.
Now, in what is believed to be a world first, the airline, in conjunction with autonomous vehicle specialist Aurrigo, is trialling driverless baggage vehicles, which are known as dollies.
Carrying up to 40 bags in one journey, the driverless dollies use the latest navigating technology to memorise the airfield to determine the shortest route to transport luggage.
Unlike the current vehicles, the new autonomous dollies will depart for the aircraft as soon as each one is full, speeding up the aircraft loading process. In addition to improving operational efficiency, the trial also forms part of the airline’s wider environmental commitment to run an emissions-free airside operation.
British Airways’ Director of Airports, Raghbir Pattar, said: “We are always looking at ways to improve efficiency and modernise our operation to ensure that we are delivering bags to and from our aircraft on time and without delay.”
David Keene, Chief Executive Officer of Aurrigo, added: “This is another fantastic example of British innovation and engineering.
Our driverless pods are now in operation all around the world and the work with IAG, BA and Heathrow Airport shows how similar technology can be used in a completely different industry to deliver significant results.”
Chris Garton, Chief Operating Officer at Heathrow Airport said: “We’re delighted to trial new technologies that will make our airport more efficient, safe and sustainable. Significant progress is being made with driverless vehicles and these trials will help us to provide the infrastructure necessary to be at the forefront of this technology.”
If successful, the dollies could transport customers’ baggage to and from the aircraft by 2021.
British Airways already operates emissions-free remote-controlled Mototok vehicles at Heathrow to pushback all of its short-haul flights and is trialling the devices for long-haul flights. These vehicles are powered by Heathrow’s 100% renewable electricity supply saving 7,400 tonnes of C02 every year compared to traditional baggage tugs. The airline also operates environmentally-friendly electric taxis to transport premium transiting customers between their arriving and departing flights.
Aurrigo is the autonomous vehicle division of Coventry-headquartered RDM Group, which is leading the world when it comes to ‘first and last mile’ self-driving transport solutions.
It has over 25 years’ experience in providing automotive technology and transport solutions, designing and developing autonomous vehicles from the ground up using Aurrigo’s in-house autonomous software platform.
The company, which employs over 80 people across its UK engineering centre and offices in Australia, Canada and the United States, has achieved global recognition for its Pod Zero, a four-seater autonomous pod that travels up to 60 miles and can reach a top speed of 15mph.
More than 30 pods are currently operational around the world completing trials in six different countries, including a retirement village in Australia and a groundbreaking project with Blind Veterans UK in Brighton.