Driverless future: Heathrow trials autonomous cargo car

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Driverless future: Heathrow trials autonomous cargo car

By
27 March 2018

By | 27 March 2018

The self-driving car covered 200km in three weeks to assess the potential use of autonomous vehicles at airports

London Heathrow has reached a new milestone as it has undergone the United Kingdom’s first ever trial of self-driving airport cargo cars.

The UK’s cargo carrier IAG Cargo, in partnership with Oxbotica –  an Oxford based company specialising in self-driving software – and Heathrow airport, has undertaken a series of tests during which a driverless car spent over three weeks collecting data from a 200 kilometre route.

The aim of the trial has been to help the carrier understand how self-driving vehicles could work in an airside environment.

The trial has been the first at an airport – Oxbotica Heathrow driverless autonomous Group Created with Sketch. The trial has been the first at a British airport and is considered to have been a success – Oxbotica

“Technology is evolving at an incredible pace. We are working with fantastic businesses like Oxbotica to develop new capabilities that will change the way airports function around the world,” said Lynne Embleton, CEO at IAG Cargo.

“The trial has yielded valuable insights and is another step in our ongoing commitment to embrace new technologies, improve processes and enhance our offering to our customers.”

Graeme Smith, CEO of Oxbotica, said it was a unique experience for the company and that he sees bright future of the autonomous cargo robots.

“We’ve previously trialled autonomous vehicles on public roads but this is the first test of how they could operate airside at an airport.”

Oxbotica is trialling the CargoPod to see if it can be used to transport luggage – Oxbotica Heathrow driverless autonomous Group Created with Sketch. Oxbotica is trialling the CargoPod to see if it can be used to transport luggage – Oxbotica

“While there were a huge number of variables to consider including transitioning from indoors to outdoors during each journey, our vision-based localisation system performed exceptionally. For us, the trial marks the first step in an ongoing relationship with Heathrow Airport and IAG Cargo.”

For Heathrow, the use of autonomous vehicle could lead to more efficient cargo service for their customers.

“We’re delighted to have hosted this UK-first trial which will make our cargo facilities faster and more efficient for our customers. We look forward to this technology being adopted across the airport,” said an airport representative Nick Platts.

Oxbotica are also trialling driverless vehicles at Gatwick airport, where they are being used to transport staff.