Testing of autonomous baggage handling technology continues at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)

CVG is the first airport in the U.S. to receive tech through partnership with Aurrigo International plc and International Airlines Group.

The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) is partnering with Aurrigo International plc (Aurrigo) and International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Vueling and LEVEL on the deployment and demonstration of an autonomous baggage tractor, Auto-DollyTug®.

Since 2019, CVG has co-developed and deployed autonomous technology with a number of partners, including the testing of autonomous ground handling equipment, floor-care scrubbers, food-delivery robots, among others. This announcement is another phase in the airport’s adoption of new technology to advance the industry.

“As one of the fastest-growing passenger and cargo hubs in the US and globally, CVG is always looking for innovative technologies to improve capacity and efficiency,” said Candace McGraw, chief executive officer, CVG. “We look forward to working with Aurrigo and IAG to identify potential solutions to help address many of the issues that aviation currently faces: staffing shortages, safety, capacity and environmental concerns, among others.”

To mark the start of the partnership, the parties gathered at CVG. The meetings this week were the project kick off for an initial deployment of one Auto-DollyTug® scheduled for spring of 2024. Ground-breaking technology such as this, brings collaboration across public and private sector, from the airport, airline, and ground handlers integrating the technology to benefit the region.

“This partnership is an important milestone for us as it will be our first aviation operation in the USA – a key target market. This year, we will have our autonomous vehicles operating at airports in the UK, Europe, Asia and now the US, showing the clear demand there is in the aviation sector for our technology,” said Aurrigo CEO, Professor David Keene. “We’re pleased to be partnering with IAG beyond the UK and to be building a presence at a key international airport. We are demonstrating vehicles that are designed from the ground up to be electric and autonomous to provide substantial efficiency improvements in future ground handling operations.”

“As the Birthplace of Aviation, Ohioans are quick to welcome new technologies that improve air travel,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. “The world is better connected to Greater Cincinnati than ever before, and Aurrigo’s decision to test their first autonomous baggage dollies in the United States at CVG will advance the airport’s efficiencies and strengthen the region’s economic competitiveness.”

“Aurrigo’s decision to bring its autonomous baggage vehicles to the United States for the first time demonstrates the valuable partnerships developed since British Airways launched round-trip service from Cincinnati to London last year,” said JobsOhio President and CEO J.P. Nauseef. “This new route, assisted through the JobsOhio Air Service Restoration Programme and REDI Cincinnati, is attracting Aurrigo’s innovative products and services that will enhance CVG passengers’ travel experience.”

On successful completion of the demonstration, Aurrigo expects that this will lead to the expansion of additional vehicles throughout 2025.

Auto-Sim® is Aurrigo’s latest software that creates a 3D digital twin to visualise today’s operations and model the impact of new technologies such as electric and or autonomous vehicles.

Auto-DollyTug® is an all-electric, autonomous vehicle that combines the utility of a baggage tractor, with the ULD (Unit Load device) carrying capability of an airport dolly all in one, making a more flexible and space efficient vehicle. This means that a combination of an Auto-DollyTug® towing three trailers carry four ULDs, which is 30% more than a traditional tug set-up of the same overall length. Auto-DollyTug® incorporates robotic arms on the body, allowing the vehicle to autonomously load and unload a ULD itself, for a truly end-to-end autonomous operation.

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