UK vehicle specialist Aurrigo has developed the world’s first autonomous baggage carrying dolly.
After the company was approached by International Airlines Group (IAG), Aurrigo has worked with British Airways (BA) to bring the dolly to Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport. The self-driving vehicle is also operating in the baggage handling area.
Aurrigo will now market the technology for integration in airports and airlines worldwide. The firm wants to make existing dollies fully autonomous and start producing lightweight versions as well.
BA currently operates around 900 dollies in Terminal 5. Richard Fairchild, Aurrigo operations director, said it’s difficult to explain how big of an operation moving luggage around the airport is.
He added: “The current method is to have one manually driven tug towing three dollies behind. It can’t move until they are all full, which means there are a lot of empty dollies waiting around.”
“What IAG wanted to do was look at an alternative solution and that’s where we came in, using knowledge gained from our hugely successful Pod Zero passenger carrying vehicle to turn a standard dolly into a self-driving vehicle capable of moving bags from the baggage hall to the aircraft stand.
“Better still, this means that each dolly can move on its own and doesn’t need to wait for all three to be loaded, providing greater flexibility and speed of loading, not to mention reducing the need to maintain such a huge fleet of dollies and tugs.”
A successful trial of the technology taking part of a live service will confirm that the dollies can be used safely airside to deliver a host of cost and efficiency savings.
David Keene, Aurrigo chief executive officer, commented: “Our driverless pods are now in operation all around the world and the work with IAG and BA shows how similar technology can be used in a completely different industry to deliver significant results.
“We are now exploring different ways where we can create the production line and supply chain to rapidly build thousands of these autonomous dollies. The world really is our oyster on this one.”
Aurrigo’s PodZero vehicles are being used in city centres, sports venues, university campuses, shopping centres, aged care communities and more. The company currently has seven global partners.