Velodyne Lidar has announced a five-year sales agreement to provide Ultra Puck sensors to autonomous technology company, ThorDrive.

ThorDrive is using Velodyne's lidar sensors to power its cargo and baggage ground support tractors in an autonomous vehicle (AV) programme at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG).

ThorDrive AVs, equipped with multiple Velodyne Ultra Puck sensors, were developed live in complex, safety-critical environments at CVG's gates. Their proof of concept aims to advance airport safety and cargo efficiencies, with units to be sold by the end of 2021.

In 2019, CVG, the seventh largest cargo airport in North America, handled more than 1.2m tons of cargo and baggage for more than 9.1m passengers. By using ThorDrive's solution, airlines are able to autonomously transport baggage and cargo to and from aircraft.

ThorDrive chose Ultra Puck for its cargo transit vans as the sensor's 3D surround view technology provides real-time object detection needed for navigation and operation. Equipped with Velodyne's lidar solutions, ThorDrive AVs use existing infrastructure and can operate in harsh weather conditions including rain, snow and ice, day and night.

ThorDrive has been using Velodyne lidar sensors in developing its autonomous driving technology since 2010. ThorDrive is planning to expand its AV solutions further into the aviation ground support equipment market as well as to industrial and manufacturing applications.

"Our innovation partnerships focus on long-term viability and scale," said CVG chief Innovation Officer, Brian Cobb.

"This agreement is a hallmark event towards ThorDrive's capacity to scale up with Velodyne's advanced sensor technology."