UPS goes electric at East Midlands Airport

Artistic rendering of the autonomous electric cargo vehicle. Source: UPS/ Aurrigo

UPS and transport technology provider Aurrigo have announced a collaborative project to deploy an autonomous electric vehicle designed to move heavy cargo loads to and from aircraft at the UPS hub within East Midlands Airport.

The “Auto-Cargo” vehicle can transport a standard full-size cargo pallet or two half-size aviation industry standard containers or Unit Load Devices (ULD) up to a total load of 7.5 tonnes and is designed to tow a further fully loaded cargo trailer behind it.

Autonomous technology built into the vehicle will enable the limited numbers of security-cleared drivers to be freed-up to perform other roles around the airport, while also producing zero tail pipe emissions.

Development of the vehicle, including the pilot phase, is expected to take 14 months and is supported by matched funding of almost £500,000 from Innovate UK, the UK Government’s innovation agency, and government unit, The Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.

Aurrigo chief executive David Keene 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, UPS international director of automotive engineering, commented: “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.’’

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Rebecca Jeffrey

Rebecca Jeffrey
New to aviation journalism, I joined Air Cargo News in late 2021 as deputy editor. I previously worked for Mercator Media’s six maritime sector magazines as a reporter, heading up news for Port Strategy. Prior to this, I was editor for Recruitment International (now TALiNT International). Contact me on: [email protected]