Following the announcement at the Farnborough International Air show that IAI has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Lufthansa for an operational test series of TaxiBot at Frankfurt airport, Ricardo can reveal that it is continuing to support development of this important innovation – which has the potential to significantly reduce the emissions of commercial air travel

Ricardo’s involvement in the development of IAI’s TaxiBot concept dates from the very start of the engineering programme for the first demonstration vehicle in 2008. After an initial feasibility study, Ricardo developed a detailed programme for IAI to take the concept to the level of a working demonstrator vehicle with representative capability in order to prove the concept. Ricardo’s involvement in this work included initial requirements capture, conceptual design and modelling, followed by detailed specification design and the company’s engineers subsequently went on to support IAI with the manufacture and demonstration of the first TaxiBot demonstrator vehicle. According to IAI the overall worldwide cost of aircraft taxiing is estimated to exceed $8.5 billion per year by 2020; TaxiBot based taxiing has the potential to reduce this to less than $3 billion per year with consequent reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and reduced noise in the vicinity of airport ground operations.

Since the first working demonstrator project, Ricardo has continued to assist IAI with complex vehicle systems technology provision, involvement with the critical pilot steering and braking systems software and force control and fatigue elimination systems development, dynamic system modelling and hardware-in-the-loop testing, as well as providing general vehicle systems integration assistance.

Under the MoU announced between IAI and Lufthansa, three prototype TaxiBot tractors will undergo intensive tests commencing in 2013 with the Lufthansa Boeing 737 fleet in a typical operating environment at Frankfurt Airport. The tests at a major international hub airport will include the collection of extensive operating data, the optimization of ground processes from push-back to take-off, and further refinement of the TaxiBot system prior to its future series production.

Ricardo will continue to support IAI with the development of the TaxiBot, providing assistance in the development of the narrow body vehicle through to integration into production.  Discussions are also ongoing regarding potential Ricardo support for the wide body vehicle.

“Ricardo would like to congratulate IAI on the execution of its Memorandum of Understanding with Lufthansa,” said Ricardo project director for the TaxiBot programme, Richard Gordon.  “This will see the first fully operational evaluation of TaxiBot by a major airline at a large international hub airport.  We look forward to continuing our support to IAI on development of this important innovation that has the potential to revolutionize the taxiing operations of commercial air transport and significantly improve fuel consumption while reducing carbon dioxide emissions and noise.”

“The TaxiBot program is built on the joint effort, collaboration and commitments of companies around the world, including IAI, Airbus, TLD, Siemens, Lufthansa, Ricardo and many others”, adds Yehoshua (Shuki) Eldar, IAI’s Corporate VP, Business Development and Subsidiaries. “This wonderful cooperation has succeeded in transforming a great idea into a major breakthrough, which will change the transportation of airplanes to the runway in airports, save vast amounts of money and meet the new environmental goals”.