IAG Cargo conducts first airside trial of a self-driving vehicle at Heathrow

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March 27, 2018: IAG Cargo, the cargo handling division of the International Airlines Group, recently conducted the first airside trial of ‘CargoPod’, a self-driving vehicle at the Heathrow airport.  

The trial was conducted by IAG Cargo in alliance with Oxbotica, a British autonomous vehicle software company, specialising in self-driving software, at the London Heathrow Airport

The trial was aimed to help IAG Cargo figure out how autonomous vehicles function in an airside environment.

Designed by Oxbotica, ‘CargoPod’ went through a trial of three and half weeks, by operating it autonomously along a cargo route around the airside perimeter. The trial collected data of over 200 km, which will enable IAG and Heathrow Airport to assess potential opportunities for the use of autonomous vehicles in airport environments, in the future.

Lynne Embleton, CEO, 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 across the globe. The trial has yielded valuable insights, and is yet another step in our ongoing commitment to embrace new technologies, improve processes and enhance our offerings to our customers.”

Graeme Smith, CEO, Oxbotica said: “We have earlier conducted trials of autonomous vehicles on public roads, but it’s the first test to assess how the vehicle operates airside at an airport. While there were a huge number of variables to consider, including transitioning from indoors to outdoors during each journey, yet our vision-based localisation system performed exceptionally well. For us, the trial marks the first step in an ongoing relationship with the Heathrow Airport and IAG Cargo.”

Nick Platts, Head of Cargo, Heathrow Airport Limited said: “We are 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, which is being adopted across the airport.”

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