Delta Partners on Autonomous Vehicle Research with Georgia Tech, Curiosity Lab
Monday, September 9th, 2019
It might seem counterintuitive for an airline to be interested in cars – especially driverless ones. But a new partnership with Georgia Tech and Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners could help Delta identify ways autonomous vehicles can benefit customers and employees.
Delta will contribute seed funding for the research project, and researchers from all three partners will have access to Curiosity Lab’s 1.5-mile autonomous vehicle test track and smart city living laboratory in Peachtree Corners, Ga., an Atlanta suburb.
“Driving the leading edge of emerging technology – like we’ve done with biometrics by launching the first fully biometric terminal in the United States – means Delta can help shape how industry adopts it,” said Gil West, Chief Operating Officer. “Autonomous vehicle technology is one of those innovations we see as having the potential to improve employee safety, the customer experience and operational performance, and this partnership will help us explore all of those possibilities.”
As autonomous vehicle research advances across the world, Delta sees potential applications for autonomous cars, trucks or buses at airports and beyond. For example, autonomous vehicles could help customers make tight connections across an airport, they could deliver delayed baggage to customers or transport aircraft parts to airports.
West added that this program is an important part of the global airline’s strategy to invest in solutions that empower customers and employees, reduce the stresses of travel and redefine flying over the next five years and decades to come.
“The possibilities for autonomous vehicles are broad and well worth our investment, even though they remain speculative,” West said. “Delta recognizes that our people will always be our greatest competitive advantage and that no amount of technology or innovation will change that.”
Curiosity Lab, a 5G-enabled autonomous vehicle and smart city living laboratory, features a network operations center allowing researchers to track and analyze data in a unique setting.
“Our 5G-enabled living laboratory will give Georgia Tech researchers the opportunity to push the frontier of emerging technology in a real-world setting that is almost impossible to replicate in a closed lab,” said Betsy Plattenburg, executive director of Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners. “Curiosity Lab also will provide those researchers an opportunity to collaborate with other industry leaders and focus their research on immediate challenges and results.”
Debra Lam, managing director for smart cities and inclusive innovation at Georgia Tech, said, “This is a wonderful example of industry-university-local government coming together to advance innovative solutions to the built environment and mobility. Providing access to more than $4 million in infrastructure will help our researchers test new technologies and further our mission of serving our community through innovation. Providing access to such infrastructure will help our researchers test new technologies and further our mission of serving our community through innovation.”