Aurrigo develops autonomous baggage carrying dolly for airports
After being approached by the International Airlines Group (IAG) about using its expertise in driverless technology to develop the world’s first autonomous baggage carrying dolly, UK-based autonomous tech company Aurrigo has developed and deployed an autonomous ‘baggage’ platform that can transport luggage around airports.
Since March, an existing dolly that was converted into a self-driving, electric vehicle using lidar and GPS technology has been operating in Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport, and it is now operating in the baggage handling area.
Aurrigo worked with British Airways (BA) to get the dolly operational at Heathrow Airport.
“Until you have seen it first-hand, it’s difficult to explain how big an operation it is moving bags around an airport. 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,” explains Richard Fairchild, Operations director of Aurrigo.
“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 massive win-win for airports and airlines.”
Aurrigo says that it and IAG are “extremely pleased” with the initial results of the trial. Now, they are examining ways to roll out the technology so that it can be utilized by any 'future airport.’
With this in mind, Aurrigo says that it will now begin a global marketing program to talk to airports and airlines around the globe about retrofitting existing dollies to make them fully autonomous. It will also talk to airports about looking into producing a new range of super lightweight versions for extended operational performance.