PIT Airport Trials Autonomous In-Terminal Delivery Vehicles

Ottonomy is testing autonomous delivery vehicles at Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) as part of a pilot project with PIT’s xBridge innovation hub.

The business model behind these autonomous delivery vehicles is to tap into the ‘gate-hugger’ market – passengers who typically head straight to their gate without visiting airport concessions, as they are keen to be ready at their boarding area.

Ottonomy aims to access these customers by allowing them to order items from airport stores on an app. The robot will then pick up the item and bring it to the customer at their gate.

PIT Autonomous
Ottonomy began testing autonomous delivery vehicles at PIT in November, the latest project to come out of the airport’s xBridge innovation centre

Ottonomy launched in 2020. Although many unmanned delivery vehicles were already deployed in various environments at this time, most were teleoperated, or remotely piloted by humans. In contrast, Ottonomy’s Ottobots offers a fully autonomous delivery service.

Ritukar Vijay, CEO and Co-founder of Ottonomy said:

“We focused on full autonomy right from day one. Our approach has been to ensure that the Ottobot would have the capacity to run autonomously in crowded and dynamic environments. Airports are a unique spot. That kind of dynamic environment, that is very, very important, to figure out how autonomous navigation can be utilized within that space.”

The Ottobot robots are equipped with lidar and sensors to navigate the airport environment. They can perform zero-radius turns and move sideways to help travel through crowded terminals.

Ottonomy’s pilot project at PIT also allows the Ottobots to interact with PIT’s autonomous technology supplied by Carnegie Robotics to clean the terminals.

Vijay went on to say he found it interesting to see the robots interact when they encountered each other, with the cleaners aiming to cover as much ground as possible and the Ottobots identifying the straightest line from point A to B.

xBridge Director Cole Wolfson said:

“We are committed to providing the best customer experiences, by discovering and implementing innovative solutions that utilize cutting-edge technology. We’ve built a culture of innovation and we are excited to partner with Ottonomy to advance this technology in an airport environment.”

This deployment is the latest pilot project co-ordinated by PIT’s xBridge innovation hub, which has also recently worked to introduce algae-powered air purifiers to the airport.

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