British Airways has launched a trial of driverless, emissions-free baggage vehicles at Heathrow with the aim of reducing delays.
In what it claims is a world first, the airline said the trial formed part of its wider environmental commitment to run an emissions-free airside operation.
The driverless vehicles, known as dollies, carry up to 40 bags in one journey and use the latest navigating technology to memorise the airfield to determine the shortest route to the aircraft.
Unlike the current vehicles, the dollies will depart for the aircraft as soon as each one is full, speeding up the loading process.
BA director of airports Raghbir Pattar said: “We are always looking at ways to improve efficiency and modernise our operation to ensure that we are delivering bags to and from our aircraft on time and without delay.”
David Keene, CEO of autonomous vehicle specialist Aurrigo, said: “Our driverless pods are now in operation all around the world and the work with IAG, BA and Heathrow Airport shows how similar technology can be used in a completely different industry to deliver significant results”.
Heathrow CEO Chris Garton added: “We’re delighted to trial new technologies that will make our airport more efficient, safe and sustainable. Significant progress is being made with driverless vehicles and these trials will help us to provide the infrastructure necessary to be at the forefront of this technology.”
British Airways currently operates up to 800 flights a day to and from Heathrow, transporting around 75,000 bags back and forth between its baggage halls and aircraft.