R&D projects at our Airports

Here you will find full details of R&D projects that Ferrovial is developing in its Airports division.

Innovation is one of the key elements in airport management for Ferrovial, and this is reflected in its continued efforts to develop and implement initiatives incorporating the latest technological innovations with the aim of boosting efficiency and improving passenger satisfaction. Innovation at Ferrovial Airports is channelled through several different programmes.

One of these is the Zuritanken awards, a competition run by the Company to boost and value innovative ideas from staff. Some of the projects which won awards under this programme are already being developed in our airports. One example is Noise to Energy, winner of the second edition of the Zuritanken awards, where Ferrovial Airports is working together with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Heathrow Airport to develop a system for capturing the noise made by aircraft at the airport and transforming it into electrical energy. A project which is a huge challenge in itself, as noise or sound is considered a weak source for obtaining energy and there are currently very few examples of projects working along these lines.

In addition to the Zuritanken awards, Ferrovial has developed other projects in the airports it manages to achieve more efficient operations and enhance passenger satisfaction.

GLAdys, a robot with a heart

innovation ferrovial airports gladys robot

Airport teams are made up of many different professionals with different profiles, different job descriptions, and different origins. But it would be difficult to find someone as special as GLAdys, the first humanoid robot to work in a British airport.

Over the months of December 2016 and January 2017, GLAdys entertained passengers transiting the airport’s departure areas by singing Christmas songs and telling festive stories. GLAdys was also equipped with a selfie camera to take selfies with passengers, and those who wished could have their photo sent to their email address.

This first experience allowed Ferrovial to gauge passenger reaction to such a special “customer service” staff member. Following the excellent results of this first trial, GLAdys will return to Glasgow Airport  in the summer of 2017 with new functionalities and solutions aimed at enhancing passenger experience.

GLAdys has been developed from commercial robot Pepper, the first humanoid robot capable of recognising human emotions and adapting its behaviour accordingly. GLAdys’ functionalities can be adapted to suit any environment, so that it can easily be used in other airports.

GLAdys is part of the Digital Passenger Experience project being developed by Ferrovial Airports and Glasgow Airport, together with Ferrovial’s Digital Hub  and the General Directorate for IT and Innovation, and aims to improve passenger experience through digital technology.

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Key figures:

  • The number of bird strikes decreased by 74% during the months in which Robird® was being tested at the airport
  • Robird® flew less than 40 minutes on average per day during the testing period; which reinforces the effectiveness of this solution.

Ferrovial Digital Hub and Ferrovial Airports, in collaboration with Clear Flight Solutions (CFS) conducted a trial of an unmanned Ornithopter drone, Robird® in 2018 to assist Southampton Airport’s bird management operation.

More than 200 flights were completed with very good results: the number of bird strikes decreased by 74% during the months in which Robird® was being tested at the airport compared to previous years. Robird® flew less than 40 minutes on average per day during the testing period; which reinforced the effectiveness of this solution.

The trial has demonstrated that Robird® could be implemented as an effective and successful complementary mean/method for bird control. Improvement in aircraft operational reliability: less operational disruption and more reliable scheduled operations.

Robird® Operations were fully integrated into the live Controlled Traffic Region in accordance with all applicable CAA regulations – the first time this has been achieved on an on-going basis in Europe. A proof of a secure means to be operated within any Airport Operational Area.

In conclusion, Ferrovial Airports is always at the forefront of new technologies that impact positively on the efficiency of the operations within the airport infrastructure, improve their airports sustainability and their passengers’ experience.


In order to improve the accuracy, scope and visibility of traffic forecasts Ferrovial Airports and Heathrow Airport, in collaboration with Ferrovial’s Data Lab team and the Department for Information Systems and Innovation developed during 2018 a new Medium Term Forecasting tool using Google Trends.

With this new tool, Heathrow Airport is able to capture the seasonality, predicting trends and also detecting unusual changes in those trends with a 6-monhts’ model. This is a revolutionary initiative that could put over the table a  radically different traffic forecasting method to the long-standing traditional methodology.