Most of us know the drill. You plane lands and takes however long to get to your gate. You go to baggage claim (maybe with a stop at customs, if you’re coming in from a different country) and then you wait. And wait. And…wait.
Or it’s 18 minutes past takeoff and the final cart of luggage has finally arrived to be loaded onto the plane.
It takes SO flippin’ long for your luggage to go from the terminal to the plane (or vice versa). I realize there are probably a bajillion reasons why there’s almost always a delay – weather, tarmac traffic, etc. But British Airways is taking the lead in trying to fix that problem with a new system that will hopefully get your stuff to where it’s supposed to be faster and more efficiently. It should also get your luggage to your plane faster too, to help with on-time takeoffs.
As per British Airways’ press release, the airline is doing a pilot run of driverless, emissions-free baggage vehicles at Heathrow International Airport. It’s part of their ongoing £6.5bn investment for customers and the goal is to help the airline improve punctuality and on-time departures.
The airline has teamed up with Aurrigo, a leader in autonomous technology.
The vehicles, called dollies, will be able to carry up to 40 bags at one time and then use the latest navigating technology to learn and memorize the airfield. That will help them decide the shortest route to transport luggage. Unlike the vehicles they’re using now, the new dollies will depart as soon as each one is full, which will hopefully speed up the aircraft loading/unloading process.
British Airways’ Director of Airports, Raghbir Pattar, said: “We are always looking at ways to improve efficiency and modernize our operation to ensure that we are delivering bags to and from our aircraft on time and without delay.”
Chris Garton, Chief Operating Officer at Heathrow Airport said: “We’re delighted to trial new technologies that will make our airport more efficient, safe and sustainable. Significant progress is being made with driverless vehicles and these trials will help us to provide the infrastructure necessary to be at the forefront of this technology.”
If the trials are successful, British Airways could be using the dollies to transport customers’ baggage to and from the aircraft by 2021.
And hopefully, they’ll have alternate jobs for the people who currently bring your luggage between the terminal and the plane?
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary