Aurrigo and UPS collaborate on autonomous electric cargo transport service at East Midlands Airport
UPS and Coventry-based transport technology provider Aurrigo have announced a collaborative project to deploy a pilot programme for an autonomous electric cargo vehicle designed to move heavy cargo loads to and from aircraft at the UPS hub in East Midlands Airport, which UPS said is its second-largest UK cargo terminal.
The “Auto-Cargo” vehicle is designed to transport a standard full-size cargo pallet or two half-size aviation industry standard containers or Unit Load Devices (ULD) weighing up to 7.5 tonnes. It has also been designed to tow a further fully loaded cargo trailer behind it.
Aurrigo’s autonomous technology built into the vehicle will enable a limited number of security-cleared UPS drivers to perform other roles around the airport.
Matt Nicholson, UPS international director of automotive engineering, commented: “Our business is all about delivering parcels efficiently through our global, integrated network. This collaboration will help us do that with increased safety and zero tailpipe emissions, making our airside operation more efficient with a purpose-designed vehicle.’’
Development of the vehicle, including the pilot phase, is expected to take 14 months and is supported by matched funding of almost £500,000 from Innovate UK, the UK Government’s innovation agency, and government unit, The Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.
The “Auto-Cargo” vehicle will produce zero tailpipe emissions and Aurrigo chief executive, David Keene, said: “This vehicle allows an airfreight operator to help decarbonise and automate its ground operations for lower emissions and greater efficiency. By combining the tractor and trailer into one unit, we save space, which in a busy cargo hub like East Midlands Airport is vital to efficient loading and unloading of aircraft.’’
This new partnership for an autonomous electric cargo vehicle at East MIdlands Airport comes just weeks after Aurrigo’s futuristic Auto-Shuttle debuted on the streets of Prague, as the company continues to win new business thanks to its aim to deliver autonomous passenger transport systems for every inner city application.