UK airports should adopt automated technology for transport and logistics to boost productivity, decrease operations costs, cut greenhouse emissions and strengthen security, claims a report by Aberdeen Standard Investment’s Airport Industrial and Property Unit Trust (AIPUT) fund.

Produced by specialist UK aviation real estate consultancy ChappellKing and Dornier Consulting International, the study highlights benefits that can be gained by automating processes such as cargo-handling, logistics operations, and passenger transportation both to airports and within.

AIPUT fund manager Nick Smith said:  “Autonomous technology promises enormous benefits to airports and the service companies that support them, transforming the way airports work and improving efficiency and safety, both for passengers and other airport users.

“At Gatwick, for example, 90% of the airport’s airside vehicles are stationary at any one time, which is both hugely inefficient and demands a vast amount of space.

“At Gatwick, 90% of the airport’s airside vehicles are stationary at any one time, which is both hugely inefficient and demands a vast amount of space.”

“A much smaller pool of electric-powered autonomous vehicles would drastically cut costs, free up land, reduce emissions, and improve safety.”

AIPUT is using this technology to support London Heathrow Airport’s freight and logistics service providers.

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A number of airports have started testing the autonomous technology.  Heathrow in partnership with IAG Cargo and Oxbotica has wrapped up the first trials of air-side vehicles using automated technology.

Additionally, Gatwick has trialled autonomous vehicles to shuttle staff across the airfield.

Fagernes Airport in Norway tested an autonomous snowplough to clear an area of 68 acres in a single hour.