Airports to benefit from autonomous technology

A new report commissioned by Aberdeen Standard Investment’s AIPUT fund has highlighted the scale of progress and future potential for the adoption of automated transport and logistics technology at the UK’s airports.

The report, produced jointly by ChappellKing and Dornier Consulting International GmbH, explores the potential efficiency gains from automation across a plethora of airport-related functions such as cargo-handling and logistics operations, as well as passenger transportation both to and within airports.

Commenting on the report, AIPUT fund manager, Nick Smith, said, ‘Autonomous technology promises enormous benefits to airports and the service companies that support them, transforming the way airports work and improving efficiency and safety, both for passengers and other airport users…A much smaller pool of electric-powered autonomous vehicles would drastically cut costs, free up land, reduce emissions, and improve safety.’

Trials of a variety of autonomous technological applications have already taken place at a number of UK airports. The first trials of automated air-side vehicles have been completed at Heathrow. Gatwick, meanwhile, recently became the first airport in the world to trial the use of autonomous vehicles to shuttle staff across the airfield, demonstrating that autonomous vehicles can operate safely in highly-complex airfield environments.

The UK Government has signalled its support for the industry, with the announcement of £22.4m of funding under the Industrial Strategy for off-road self-driving vehicles, which it believes will revolutionises productivity in a range of sectors, including mining, ports and airports.