Autonomous Airport Passenger Shuttles Tested At New York JFK

Credit: PANYNJ

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the three major New York airports, demonstrated a “platoon” of three autonomous passenger shuttles on a closed road at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK).

The vehicles are produced by New Zealand-based Ohmio, which conducted the demonstration with the Port Authority on June 8. Three eight-passenger autonomous shuttles moved in a platoon “traveling approximately 7 ft. apart at 20 mph without any physical connection,” according to the Port Authority. “Platooning is an important feature … as it allows for multiple autonomous vehicles to travel in unison, significantly increasing the number of passengers who can be transported in a single movement.”

The Port Authority notes the shuttles used during the demonstration had on-board safety personnel. 

The Port Authority says platooning autonomous shuttles “may prove particularly useful in airport environments to transport passengers in a single movement for short connections such as access to a nearby commuter rail station, an airport rental car facility or ... to the furthest ends of long-term parking lots.”

Another demonstration will be conducted in July at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to show “how an autonomous shuttle van could operate in mixed traffic” at the New Jersey airport, the Port Authority notes.

“We are laser-focused on advancing cutting-edge technology at our facilities, and autonomous vehicle platooning may prove particularly useful in public transit, including at airports,” Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton says in a statement. “This technology could help improve capacity, service and reliability, enabling travelers in the region to get where they need to go faster and more efficiently.” 

French company Navya demonstrated its eight-passenger autonomous shuttles at JFK in October 2022, using two vehicles moving in a platoon on an airport parking lot. 

Aaron Karp

Aaron Karp is a Contributing Editor to the Aviation Week Network.