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Brexit boost as UK company signs £2.5m tech deal with ‘world’s best airport’ | UK | News

A booming British company pioneering autonomous technology has landed a £2.5m world-first deal with Singapore Changi Airport to use self-driving baggage trolleys.

The vehicles haul significantly more luggage to planes than inefficient diesel-powered tugs.

The new generation of airport baggage handling vehicles, designed, engineered and built by Coventry-based Aurrigo will arrive in Singapore in the coming months.

Professor David Keene, chief executive, said: “This is a milestone moment for the aviation sector and paves the way for the future adoption of our Auto-Dolly Tugs for servicing of live flights in the near term. Changi Airport Group has been exploring this technology with us since 2020 and the results of significant testing has given it the confidence to place this next contract with us.”

The landmark deal is significant and has major implications for airports across the world.

Flights to and from every major UK hub were thrown into chaos last year after baggage handlers threatened strike action over pay and conditions.

But the zero-emission trucks could put an end to subsequent industrial action.

Cases are currently hauled from the baggage hall to tarmac using diesel-spewing tugs which can only tow trolleys. The all-electric Auto-Dolly Tug – available as driverless or manual – is significantly more efficient and able to carry 1.5 tonnes and tow a further 7.5 tonnes of suitcases, saving time, space, costs and bypassing potential strikes.

The vehicle carries 30% more than a traditional diesel-powered tug set-up of the same overall length, while robotic arms allow the vehicle to autonomously load and unload.

Last summer travel to and from UK airports was marred by widespread disruption after airport security and baggage handling staff threatened a succession of walk-outs with unions rejoicing strikes would “bring all terminals and airline baggage handling to a standstill”.

Changi International Airport, which opened in 1981, has consistently been ranked as the world’s best airport for a decade.

Ms Poh Li San, of Changi Airport Group, said: “We look forward to trialing the fleet of Auto-Dolly Tugs.”

A flood of orders from across Europes comes after a major Brexit boost last year when the company’s driverless shuttles were tested on the historic streets of Prague for the first time.

Aurrigo’s futuristic Auto-Shuttle replaced horse and cart in the Czech Republic capital – a major worldwide tourist destination – in what bosses described as a “major export win”.

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