Under a memorandum of understanding signed at last June’s Paris airshow, IAI is working with Airbus to develop a semi-robotic tractor called Taxibot, which tows an aircraft from the airport gate to the take off point and gets it to the gate after landing. This means that aircraft don’t have to run their engines to taxi, thereby reducing pollution, noise and fuel costs.
The towbarless system leaves the aircraft pilot in control of the taxiing. The Taxibot fleet at each airport would be managed through a command and control communication center located in the air traffic control tower. The eventual goal of the program is to fully automate the taxiing process.
IAI is now working with French ground-support equipment maker TLD to develop the Taxibot vehicle. They expect a demonstrator model to be ready during the first quarter of this year. This cooperation should lead to the creation of a joint venture to bring the product to market.