UPS and Aurrigo have announced a collaborative project to deploy autonomous electric vehicles designed to move heavy cargo loads to and from aircraft at the UPS hub at East Midlands Airport, the UK’s second-largest cargo terminal.
Aurrigo's Auto-Cargo vehicle can transport a standard full-size cargo pallet or two half-size aviation industry standard containers or unit load devices (ULD) up to a total load of 7.5 tonnes and is designed to tow a further fully loaded cargo trailer behind it. Its autonomous technology will enable the limited number of security-cleared drivers to be freed-up to perform other roles around the airport, while also producing zero tail pipe emissions.
The program is supported by matched funding from Innovate UK, the UK Government’s innovation agency, and CCAV, with almost 500K GBP in funding. The two companies will develop and pilot Auto-Cargo at East Midlands Airport over a 14-month period.
David Keene, Aurrigo CEO, said: "This vehicle allows an airfreight operator to help decarbonize 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."
Matt Nicholson, UPS international director of automotive engineering added: "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."