Industrial automation technologies have been commonplace in the aerospace industry for some time. This innovation is now starting to be seen inside aircraft, and within the aircraft manufacturing industry, airports, and ground support equipment.

Aurrigo is a UK-based company developing the world’s first automated dolly. A dolly is used at most airports around the world to transport baggage and cargo. The company utilizes driverless technology and has been testing its innovations out in Britain.

It was the International Airlines Group (IAG) that asked Aurrigo to get their engineers working on automating ground equipment, in hopes that they could roll out the technology worldwide.

Utilizing their wealth of knowledge in LIDAR and GPS technology, Aurrigo went to work. After some developing and designing, the company has rolled out a prototype that is now wheeling around Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport in London.

Source: Aurrigo

Director of Operations at Aurrigo Richard Fairchild in the official press announcement of the dolly innovation said, “Until you have seen it first-hand, it’s difficult to explain how big an operation it is moving bags around an airport.

“In Terminal 5 alone, BA operates around 900 dollies. The current method is to have one manually driven tug towing three dollies behind. It can’t move until they are all full, which means there are a lot of empty dollies waiting around.

“What IAG wanted to do was look at an alternative solution and that’s where we came in, using the knowledge gained from our hugely successful Pod Zero passenger-carrying vehicle to turn a standard dolly into a self-driving vehicle capable of moving bags from the baggage hall to the aircraft stand.”

In the Bristol area, Aurrigo is testing out the autonomous Pod Zero passenger carrier pod. The company showed what the very first implementations of driverless technologies could be — in this video they are transporting the elderly to and from.

David Keene, Chief Executive Officer of Aurrigo, about the dollies utilizing the driverless technology at Heathrow, said: “This is another fantastic example of British innovation and engineering and I’m delighted that our team has again delivered — this time for a new application.

“Our driverless pods are now in operation all around the world and the work with IAG and BA shows how similar technology can be used in a completely different industry to deliver significant results.”

In this case, industrial automation is making the entire process of transporting cargo and baggage at airports even more efficient than it was before.

For engineers, automating cargo-carrying shows that the things they design for one industry can be embedded into other industries and make a big impact. And that’s why industrial automation is a subject that all engineers should be upskilling themselves with.

 

Works Cited

“Aurrigo Delivers Autonomous 'Baggage' Solution for Heathrow.” Aurrigo, 25 June 2019, aurrigo.com/news/2019/06/aurrigo-delivers-autonomous-baggage-solution-for-heathrow/.