IAG Cargo has undertaken the first airside trial of a self-driving vehicle at a UK airport. In partnership with Oxbotica – an Oxford based company specialising in self-driving software - and London Heathrow Airport the trial is designed to help the carrier understand how autonomous vehicles could work in an airside environment.

The “CargoPod” vehicle, designed by Oxbotica, spent three and half weeks running autonomously along a cargo route around the airside perimeter. The trial collected over 200km of data that will enable IAG and Heathrow to assess potential opportunities for the use of autonomous vehicles in airport environments of the future.

Lynne Embleton, CEO at IAG Cargo, said: “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. 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.”

Dr Graeme Smith, CEO of Oxbotica, added: “We’ve previously trialled autonomous vehicles on public roads but this is the first test of how they could operate airside at an airport. 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.”

Nick Platts, Heathrow Airport Limited, said: “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.”

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