SAN Innovation Lab to focus on autonomous technology

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The Airport Innovation Lab at San Diego Airport (SAN) is to focus on autonomous technology that enhances airport functions – such as airside operations, terminal space operations and intra-transit options – for its inaugural one-year program. From now through to spring 2021, applications are being accepted to the program, which will allow companies with autonomous technology solutions to test and refine their products in a live environment.

The lab says that examples of technology accepted to the program include autonomous pushback solutions, AI-based smart assistants and autonomous transit options for moving passengers and staff within the terminal space.

Accepted applicants will participate in a four-quarter, one-year program. In each three-month quarter, participants will take part in a variety of workshops, testing sprints and one-on-one mentoring sessions that will culminate in demo-day presentations. Workshop topics will include operations, revenue management, business development, IT/technology, customer experience and marketing.

At the end of the program, successful autonomous technology solutions will have the potential to enter into contract negotiations with the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, SAN’s owner and operator. Participants will also potentially be introduced to other airports and analogous businesses including other transportation hubs, convention centers, shopping malls, and other large venues such as ballparks, theme parks and hotels.

“Investments in autonomous solutions have grown by more than US$7bn since 2010, and national passenger surveys indicate a significant need for process automation at airports,” said Gina Jacobs, program manager, airport innovation and customer experience. “We know there is significant interest in automation at airports around the country. Our one-year program will offer developers a chance to prepare their solutions to be competitive in the US marketplace.”

The one-year program will begin in a virtual format until Covid-19 restrictions are eased. To apply for the program, applicants will need an existing prototype that can be tested in a real-life airport environment and that is new to US airports or an extension of an existing service or product to be tested at SAN.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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