The National Academies

ACRP 10-32 [Active]

U.S. Airport Industry Adoption of Automated Ground Vehicle Systems

  Project Data
Funds: $450,000
Staff Responsibility: Matthew J. Griffin
Research Agency: Ernst & Young-Parthenon
Principal Investigator: Dr. Shawn Kimmel
Effective Date: 10/20/2021
Completion Date: 5/20/2023



Automated ground vehicle technology is increasingly used to support road transportation, and ACRP Research Report 219: Advanced Ground Vehicle Technologies for Airside Operations identified potential opportunities for its use in an airport setting.  The automation of vehicles and other systems on the airside is an area where possible benefits could be numerous for airports and their stakeholders, but more data needs to be collected.  Additionally, with those benefits in mind, airports need to better understand the next steps to implement this technology.


Airports already may use automated vehicles in operations, such as snow removal, grass cutting, and friction measurement.  As the entity with primary responsibility for ground vehicle permitting and activities on non-movement areas, airports also are responsible for defining requirements, systems, and minimum standards that enable and support tenants and other airport users to safely implement automated ground vehicle systems (AGVS) on airport property.  There have been pilot programs on automated vehicles at airports throughout the United States and abroad, and collecting the data and aggregating findings would be useful in building a framework for the U.S. airport industry to begin a more widespread rollout and adoption of automated ground vehicles.   




The objectives of this research are:

1. A framework by which the U.S. airport industry can have a consistent and standardized adoption of AGVS with a focus on their use for airside operations. The framework will address both industrywide challenges as well as local airport issues including:

  • Metrics for understanding the adoption of AGVS both locally and industrywide; 
  • Outline of draft rules, regulations, and/or ordinances that airports can adopt for allowing AGVS;
  • Minimum performance requirements that airports could adopt for allowing AGVS;
  • Minimum infrastructure necessary to support AGVS; and
  • Data sharing models.

2. A playbook that is written for individual airports, scalable for airports of all sizes, providing progressive phases for implementation, and vendor agnostic.  It should address or include the following, at a minimum:

  • A primer, written for airport leadership, on automation and AGVS (see Special Note A);
  • Guidelines for developing a business case to evaluate the benefits, costs, and timing of AGVS; 
  • Regulatory considerations;
  • Legal and liability considerations;
  • Possible funding resources;
  • Stakeholder effects and engagement;
  • Training requirements;
  • Guidelines for using an airport Safety Management System (SMS) to review the integration of AGVS airportwide;
  • Integrated airport ecosystem reference architecture; and
  • Understanding the uses, benefits, and limitations of the AGVS.

AGVS, for the purpose of this project, encompass any vehicle or system that moves across the ground and is not attached to a physical building.


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