An Israeli-made robotic airplane tow vehicle made its debut at Germany’s Frankfurt Airport on Thursday.
Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) “TaxiBot” was designed to ferry the most commonly used passenger airplane, the Boeing 737, from its terminal to the runway. The TaxiBot was first tested on a commercial Lufthansa flight, and later, after a thorough and prolonged review, was approved by Israeli and European aviation authorities. On Thursday, IAI and Lufthansa signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a larger TaxiBot model to support larger aircraft such as the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380.
The TaxiBot is an upgrade over the traditional airplane towing vehicle, known as a pushback truck. The pushback truck pulls an airplane away from a terminal to a safe distance, so that the pilots can use the airplane’s thrusters to maneuver the plane without fear of jet exhaust damaging the terminal or spreading debris. But the drive from the terminal to the runaway burns a lot of fuel. The TaxiBot, alternatively, Taxibot allows the pilot to drive the plane from the cockpit via remote control and take it from the terminal to the runway, without having to use the plane’s engine. This reduces air pollution and fuel consumption.
“We have started an eco-friendly revolution in the commercial aviation industry,” said IAI Corporate Vice President Shuki Eldar.