Friday 3rd December 2021

Cool IoT Use Cases: Air France conducts first test of self-driving baggage tractor

Published on December 18th, 2019

Market overview

The increase in international travel is having a significant impact on international airports. In order to stay competitive, airport authorities need to do more than simply expand the solution that measures journeys from kerb to gate. A relatively new challenge is to improve baggage flow and ramp safety at airport hubs.

The problem

When passengers’ baggage has reached the sorting area, the autonomous baggage tractor needs to perform the following operations. Allow a handler to place baggage in the tractor’s containers.

Move autonomously around the airport to reach the designed aircraft. And, as it nears the aircraft, the tractor should stop and allow a handler to take control and offload the baggage. The tractor then needs to return to the baggage sorting area taking the same route.

The solution

To carry out those tasks and integrate ramp traffic, the AT135 baggage tractor vehicle is equipped with intelligent sensors that enable it to recognise its environment, position itself with great precision, detect obstacles at 360° and make decisions.

In order to move around the airport autonomously, the AT135 employs autonomous steering software. The electric power train runs off a 32 kWh battery that gives it a top speed of 15 mph (24 km/h) and the ability to pull up to 25 tonnes.

The players

The AT135 was developed jointly with Navya, which supplied the autonomous driving system; Groupe 3S with its ground-handling expertise; Air France; Toulouse-Blagnac airport; and TCR, which is responsible for maintenance and operations.

Business benefits

  • Fast, efficient baggage handling
  • Autonomous navigation
  • A significant step towards future smart airports

The author is freelance technology writer, Bob Emmerson.

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