Push-back Bot

British Airways have started using robots to push their aeroplanes back from the stands at London Heathrow Terminal 5. However, they are not autonomous and are remotely controlled by a nearby operator.

Push-back robot 1

These remind me of something out of robot wars and they appear to be fully electric. I guess this is better from an emissions point of view than a diesel truck but I don’t think that it’s the biggest environmental impact of air travel.

Push-back robot 2

Something that may have a bigger impact on transport are the autonomous pods in use at Terminal 5. These are worth having a go on and they run on a track between the short-stay and business car parks. Newer versions of these pods are fully autonomous and don’t need an isolated guide track.

Autonomous transport pod

The best way to get to Heathrow is on the Piccadilly tube line 1. If you avoid zone 1 then it is super cheap, particularly if you go off-peak and have a railcard loaded onto your oyster.


  1. The easiest place to change between the District and Piccadilly lines is at Barons Court or Hammersmith (adjacent platform), as it is a long walk at Earl’s Court or South Kensington.