Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) said May 13 that the company, together with its partners TLD and SAS, is expanding its operation and deployment of the "TaxiBot" plane-towing semi-robotic vehicle to Amsterdam's Schiphol airport and Bangalore airport in India.
With the COVID-19 crisis bringing airport operations to a near-halt, airports are using their time and space for testing various recently-developed technologies and ways to streamline their operations. For example, the Amsterdam airport recently started a pilot program for streamlining the taxiing process using the TaxiBot. The airport in Bangalore is also testing the system in order to start operations as soon as flights resume.
The TaxiBot, which was developed by IAI's aviation group and TLD, is connected to the aircraft and controlled by the pilot. It is used for towing the aircraft from the gate to the runway and back so the aircraft's engines do not need to be used. This "taxiboting" process saves 85% of the fuel usually burned while taxiing, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by a similar amount. Additional benefits include a 60% reduction of noise and a 50% reduction of damage caused by foreign objects sucked into the engines during taxiing. The TaxiBot streamlines the process of entering and exiting the terminal area, saving around 4 minutes per departure as shown during routine daily operations at Delhi airport.
Yossi Melamed, IAI VP and head of IAI’s Aviation Group, said, "The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in near-cessation of operations in many airports. We are taking advantage of the opportunities this situation offers. Several governments in Europe, such as Holland and France, and the US conditioned their economic assistance to businesses, including airports and airlines, on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The TaxiBot helps airports and airlines meet the requirements and save resources. We are excited about the interest that airports are showing in our development."