TaxiBot will make airports greener

TaxiBot in Frankfurt-2.jpg



A “think tank” team at Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is searching for ideas to help make airports greener. This team is the “father” of the TaxiBot, a pilot-controlled semi-robotic towing system for aircraft. While the company is developing advanced UAVs, missiles, satellites and other military useful systems, this team is concerned about making airports more friendly to the environment.

 

The first result of this effort is almost a commercial product. Lufthansa and IAI have successfully conducted an operating test for the TaxiBot pilot-controlled semi-robotic towing system. The test was conducted at Frankfurt airport using a 747-400.

 

The test included towing the aircraft from gate to runway and back under typical taxiing conditions. TaxiBot is a joint development by IAI’s Lahav division and Airbus of an innovative environmentally-friendly pilot-controlled semi-robotic towing system.

 

The TaxiBot towing system, designed by IAI, allows airplanes to taxi to and from the airport gate to the runway without the need to operate their jet engines.

 

During the demonstration, following TaxiBot  push-back, all taxiing processes were controlled by the aircraft’s pilots from the cockpit, using the normal tiller and braking pedals just as in regular airplane taxiing. The TaxiBot’s special control system controlled the load on the aircraft’s nose landing gear in real time, maintaining it within a pre-calculated envelope, so that there was no significant fatigue effect on the nose gear.

 

According to IAI , despite the severe weather conditions which prevailed during the Frankfurt test, the demonstrator system showed excellent capabilities and successfully maintained the defined envelope.

 

The test, conducted on a Lufthansa 747-400, followed a similar exercise in Toulouse on an Airbus A340-600 test aircraft, conducted by Airbus and IAI during the second quarter of 2010 that showed promising results.

 

According to IAI, work is continuing to develop a TaxiBot prototype vehicle for narrowbodies, such as the A320 and 737 families.

 

Further demonstrator tests on Airbus aircraft are scheduled for the second quarter of 2011, to allow various operational and technical conclusions to be reached regarding prototype development and bring the system design to maturity prior to serial production.

 

According to IAI, the TaxiBot prototype is scheduled to achieve certification during 2012 and deliveries of the first units to customers should begin before the end of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

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