Airports See a Driverless Future Across the Tarmac

Nearly 50 years after the first airport automated people mover — that’s transport lingo for a driverless train — debuted at Tampa International, humans still handle most functions on the airfield, such as moving bags, pushing back planes, clearing ice and snow, and driving buses.

Within a decade, that may change. Several companies want to persuade airlines and airports to invest in the next generation of automated vehicles, promising they can reduce costs and boost efficiency, without compromising safety. They’re developing driverless snowplows, baggage tractors, and buses, and some should be ready within three to 10 years.