Hong Kong airport’s Robobus offers glimpse of driverless future
12/21/2022|11:49:04 AM|Bloomberg

Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) is ready to use driverless buses, confident it can shuttle passengers around the aerodrome from 2023 after extensive trials that have been years in the making.

By bolting on cameras, sensors and tracking devices, the Asian financial hub’s main airport has adapted and kitted out an electric bus from Chinese carmaker BYD and been testing so-called Level 4 autonomous technology.

The four-year effort, using other types of driverless vehicles without passengers, has racked up around 130,000km without an accident, according to the airport.

It isn’t the airport’s first foray into high-tech transport. HKIA currently deploys four battery-powered patrol cars made by SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile as security to patrol the airfield perimeter and has a fleet of 12 battery-powered tractors towing passenger baggage containers and another four for air cargo. Sensors for those are made by San Jose-based Velodyne Lidar.

Longer term, HKIA also sees driverless, autonomous technology as useful to alleviate a general shortfall in labour. The company is down by a third from its pre-pandemic workforce of 73,000. 

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