UPS and Aurrigo announced a collaborative project to deploy Auto-Cargo, an autonomous electric vehicle designed to move heavy cargo loads to and from aircraft at the UPS hub at East Midlands Airport, U.K.’s second-largest cargo terminal.

“The 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,” says the official release.

Its autonomous technology will enable the limited numbers of security-cleared drivers to be freed up to perform other roles around the airport while also producing zero tailpipe emissions.

David Keene, CEO, Aurrigo says: “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.”

The programme is supported by matched funding from Innovate UK, the U.K. government’s innovation agency, and CCAV, with almost £500,000 in funding. The two companies will develop and pilot Auto-Cargo at East Midlands Airport over a 14-month period.

Matt Nicholson, International Director, Automotive Engineering, UPS says: “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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