An autonomous vehicle pilot program could be the harbinger of more sophisticated technology to come at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.
The airport board will vote Thursday on whether to approve a $300,000 payment to bring autonomous vehicles to the airport for a six-month testing period.
The vehicle, supplied by EasyMile Inc., will operate in the airport's remote south parking lot and act like a bus taking people from their cars to the main bus terminal in the lot. The electric vehicle can carry up to 12 people.
"What we're looking to understand is: what is the potential across the airport as the technology advances?" said Jodie Brinkerhoff, vice president of Innovation for DFW.
Some future uses of autonomous vehicles at the airport could include cargo movement and distribution of concession supplies.
During the six-month pilot program, the team heading the operation at DFW will examine the complexity of the route mapping process, what goes into charging the vehicles and evaluating its mechanical needs.
"It also gives us a safe environment to test the vehicle as well, rather than put it out on a highway," said Paul Puopolo, executive vice president of Innovation at DFW Airport.
If approved by the airport board, the goal is to get the shuttle service started in November, Puopolo said.
EasyMile is a French company with a U.S. headquarters in Denver. The company has been testing its autonomous vehicles around the country including at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Texas Southern University in Houston, and locally at the entertainment district in Arlington, where city leaders said the vehicle was underwhelming in a good way.