At your next visit to DFW International Airport, you may notice a driverless vehicle on the move.
The airport is piloting a new program to use autonomous vehicles to transport passengers. They’re calling the new service “EMMA”, which is short for “Easy Mile Mobility Assistant."
Jodie Brinkerhoff, vice president of innovation for DFW Airport, said the team came up with the name when they were driving around in search for a potential route.
“The team started referring to “her” as the shuttle, so it took on a gender of its own,” Brinkerhoff said. “She’s driving here along the parking lot to give passengers a lift to the bus terminal before going to the airport terminal.”
EMMA seats 12 people and does not require a driver. Right now, the driver-free vehicle is in the airport’s South Remote parking lot.
“The reason she’s here is because we know that intelligent, efficient mobility is coming. It’s emerging technology and we know that the impact to the airport enterprise in the future could be great,” Brinkerhoff explained.
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“Technology is moving very, very quickly," she said. "When you combine that with the rising customer expectations for intelligence, for speed and on time delivery — we have tremendous potential but we need to be thinking about those things now.”
Brinkerhoff said with technology constantly evolving and expectations rising from customers for intelligence and speed, there is a tremendous potential for cutting-edge technology.
“We need to be thinking about those things now,” she said. “I think the interesting thing about autonomous technology is there's an application for it across the airport. We have so many places where we need to move people and things — it could be food in the airports, it could be baggage.”