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Aurrigo and UPS Unveil Collaborative Pilot Project

UPS and Aurrigo are embarking on a groundbreaking partnership to introduce Auto-Cargo, an autonomous electric vehicle, into their operations at the UPS hub located in East Midlands Airport, UK. This innovative project is set to revolutionize the way heavy cargo loads are transported to and from aircraft, presenting a paradigm shift in efficiency and environmental sustainability within the logistics industry.

The Auto-Cargo vehicle, the centerpiece of this collaboration, boasts impressive capabilities. It is specifically designed to transport a standard full-size cargo pallet or two half-size aviation industry standard containers, known as unit load devices (ULD), with a maximum load capacity of up to 7.5 metric tons. What sets it apart is its capacity to tow an additional fully loaded cargo trailer, providing even more flexibility and efficiency in cargo handling.

One of the key advantages of Auto-Cargo is its autonomous technology. This cutting-edge feature allows the vehicle to operate without the constant need for a human driver. While security-cleared drivers will still play a role in overseeing operations, the autonomous capabilities of Auto-Cargo will free them up to take on other essential tasks around the airport. This not only enhances operational efficiency but also optimizes human resources, ensuring that skilled personnel can be utilized effectively throughout the airport.

Perhaps one of the most compelling aspects of this collaboration is its commitment to environmental sustainability. Auto-Cargo is an all-electric vehicle, produces zero tailpipe emissions. In an era where reducing carbon emissions is paramount, this development signifies a significant step forward in green logistics. By incorporating autonomous electric vehicles into their operations, UPS and Aurrigo are aligning with global efforts to combat climate change and reduce the carbon footprint associated with transportation and logistics.

The project enjoys substantial financial support from Innovate UK, the UK government’s innovation agency, and CCAV. With nearly ¬£500,000 (approximately US$610,000) in funding, this initiative is well-positioned to succeed in its mission to revolutionize cargo transportation at East Midlands Airport.

Over the course of a 14-month period, UPS and Aurrigo will collaborate to develop and pilot Auto-Cargo within the East Midlands Airport environment. This comprehensive testing and development phase will ensure that the autonomous vehicle meets the rigorous standards required for safe and efficient cargo transportation in a busy airport setting.

David Keene, CEO of Aurrigo, commented on the significance of this project, stating, “This vehicle allows an airfreight operator to help decarbonize and automate its ground operations for lower emissions and greater efficiency.” Keene emphasized the space-saving design of Auto-Cargo, an essential feature in a bustling cargo hub like East Midlands Airport, where efficient loading and unloading of aircraft are of utmost importance.

Matt Nicholson, international director of automotive engineering at UPS, 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.” Nicholson’s remarks underline the core principles driving this partnership: safety, efficiency, and sustainability.

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