In an age where everything from baggage systems to check-in desks is becoming automated. What might come next? it’s like the answer could be driverless vehicles to drive aircraft on the runways.

British Airways is already using driverless Vehicles to push their aircraft back. However, totally automated airport vehicles might be on the horizon before long. Heathrow’s Terminal five uses driverless pods to shuttle guests to a car park. A French company known as Navya is looking at automating everything from snow ploughs to buses. The big question is, however, are airports ready for this new technology?

The Positives of Driverless Vehicles

By automating the vehicle process, airlines could drastically cut delays. British Airways has seen delays drop by around fifty-three since driverless Vehicles entered service. in addition, if airports are fully automated, accidents can be cut too. Airports have relatively low-speed limits. However, if they became fully automated, every vehicle would know where the other was.

Additionally, it might be a lot of easier for airports to program their complete road network into software than it would be to fully program the world’s road network. this suggests that instead of having to completely rely on GPS, the vehicle could be aware of its position on the airfield in real-time.

The Negatives of Driverless Vehicles

All pros have their cons, and there are a couple of related to automated vehicles. the first is safety in an aviation environment. moving around aircraft might cause a safety hazard for the vehicles and aircraft. additionally, there’s the problem of how vehicles would cross taxiways.

Of course, there’s the option for ATC to “open” taxiways to vehicles. Another way would be to track all aircraft in real-time. However, the system would need to be ground-based, as it would be near impossible to retrofit every aircraft. Finally, such systems would need watertight security protocols. simply imagine the chaos if a vehicle was somehow driven onto a runway deliberately or otherwise.


All in all, despite the drawbacks, having automated aircraft at an airport would possibly be a positive change. All of the negative mentioned would probably be addressed during the development phase. Indeed, it would take at least 5 to 10 years to roll out such a system at airports. it would likely begin with low-risk vehicles and work its way up.

Given the success of various driverless trials at airports, it appears to be more a question of when airports will gain driverless vehicles. this is as opposed to if airports would get driverless vehicles.

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