Autonomous vehicle trial takes place at Heathrow Airport

Hot on the heels of Gatwick Airport’s announcement that it is to trial autonomous vehicles for airfield transport this summer, cargo operator IAG Cargo has undertaken an airside trial of a self-driving vehicle at London’s Heathrow Airport.

The autonomous vehicle trial – conducted in partnership with self-driving software developer Oxbotica and Heathrow Airport – is designed to help IAG Cargo understand how such vehicles might work in an airside environment.

“We’ve previously trialled autonomous vehicles on public roads but this is the first test of how they could operate airside at an airport,” said Oxbotica CEO Dr Graeme Smith.

Oxbotica’s CargoPod at Heathrow airport (IMage courtesy of Oxbotica)

Oxbotica’s CargoPod at Heathrow airport (IMage courtesy of Oxbotica)

During the almost month-long trial, the Oxbotica-designed ‘CargoPod’ vehicle ran autonomously along a cargo route around the airport’s airside perimeter. IAG and Heathrow will use the 200km of trial data collected to assess possible ways to use autonomous vehicles in airports in future.

“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 around the world,” said Lynne Embleton, CEO at IAG Cargo.

“The trial has yielded valuable insights and is another step in our ongoing commitment to embrace new technologies, improve processes and enhance our offering to our customers.”