British airport to be testbed for autonomous freight truck

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UPS and automotive firm Aurrigo are collaborating in a project to deploy an autonomous electric vehicle designed to move heavy cargo loads to and from aircraft at the UPS hub at East Midlands Airport.

The Auto-Cargo,will be able transport a standard full-size cargo pallet or two half-size aviation industry standard containers or Unit Load Devices up to a totalof 7.5 tonnes and can tow a further fully loaded cargo trailer.

It will allow the limited numbers of security-cleared drivers to perform other roles around the airport, while also producing zero tail pipe emissions.

The programme is supported by matched funding from Innovate UK, the UK Government’s innovation agency, and CCAV. The two companies will develop and pilot Auto-Cargo at East Midlands Airport over a 14-month period.

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.’’

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