The autonomous vehicle will heavy cargo loads to and from aircraft at UPS’s hub at the airport.
Developing and piloting the vehicle will take 14 months and is supported by matched funding from Innovate UK, the UK Government’s innovation agency, and The Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, with almost £500,000 of funding.
The vehicle can move a standard full-size cargo pallet or 2 half-size containers weighing up to 7.5 tonnes and it is designed to tow a further fully loaded cargo trailer behind it.
The autonomous technology will free up security-cleared drivers to perform other roles.
David Keene, CEO of Aurrigo, 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.”
Matt Nicholson, Director of Automotive Engineering at UPS International, 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.”