Autonomous vehicle trial for Gatwick

Written by: Alwyn Brice |
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Gatwick is set to lead the world as it gears up for the first ever autonomous vehicle trial airside.

If the trial proves successful, the airport authority says that it could lead to an Uber-like service where staff will hail a vehicle when they need to travel across the airfield.

The trial will begin this summer and will see workers shuttled between popular locations on the airfield by electric-powered autonomous vehicles that will make use of airside roads between the North and South terminals. The trial will be run in partnership with Oxbotica, a company that develops software enabling vehicles to run autonomously without reliance on GPS or any other technology outside the vehicle.

If effective, the trial could lead to airfield transport needs being met from a much smaller pool of autonomous vehicles. With the current 300 airside vehicles at Gatwick stationary 90% of the time, the use of autonomous shuttles would reduce the need for such large vehicle fleets, cut down on emissions and lower running costs.

Interesting to note, should the technology prove workable in an airfield environment, the project might become the precursor to a wide range of other uses, including aircraft pushback tugs, passenger load bridges, baggage tugs and transportation buses.

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