France tests out the world’s first automated airport baggage transport system
France, very recently, became the first ever country to test out an automated baggage tractor in a real-life working environment. The Autonom Tract AT135 baggage tractor was brought into operation in November, 2019.
The tractor functions to transport the baggage from the baggage sorting area to the aircraft, and vice versa.
It is a smart electric tractor that has 5 sensors installed into it; these include a Lidar (measures the distance to a target), a GPS, an odometer (measures the distance covered by a vehicle) and two cameras. These sensors are collectively responsible for tasks like ensuring the correct and precise movement after recognition of the surroundings, detection of obstacles all around and decision making. The automated tractor, also, can understand the traffic signals at the airport. It moves at a speed of 15 mph (24 km/h) and towing power of 25 tonnes, credit to its 32 kWh battery.
From the baggage sorting area, the baggage is connected to the tractor by putting it in containers linked to the tractor. The destination is pre-programmed into the tractor. The tractor then starts to move and carries the baggage to the aircraft. Upon nearing the craft, it is stopped and the baggage is transferred to the aircraft and AT135 goes back to the baggage sorting area.
It was produced as a collaboration between multiple players of the air transport field; which include Air France, CHARLATTE AUTONOM (a partnership between NAVYA, a French leader in autonomous driving technology and Charlatte Manutention, a renowned manufacturer of airport vehicles) and the Toulouse-Blagnac airport of France.
The goal behind the introduction of such an automated technology was to improve the performance of baggage flow at airports and to make sure that this transportation is carried out safely; when the traffic flow is made autonomous, the operators can focus better on other more meaningful tasks such as decision-making and management, resulting in a higher level of efficiency.
“This test is a concrete step to designing the Smart Airport, more innovative, connected and more efficient for our customers.” said Philippe Crébassa, Chairman of the Executive Board of Toulouse-Blagnac Airport.
The management and control of the AT135 TRACT is a responsibility of the corporations involved in its invention. The TCR handles all the daily maintenance work of the tractor. The on-ground operations are managed by the Groupe 3S, Air France provides the expert views in terms of incorporation of the tractor into a permanent part of the airport settings while the Toulouse-Blagnac airport provides all the infrastructure for running the tests on the Autonom Tract AT135 baggage tractor.
All Images: © Air France
h/t: Digital Trends