In November 2019, Air France, CHARLATTE AUTONOM and Toulouse-Blagnac airport brought into service an autonomous tractor for transporting baggage between the baggage sorting area and aircraft. The testing in real conditions of this autonomous baggage tractor brings us one step closer to creating the smart airport of the future.
With the roll-out of smart, autonomous vehicles, air transport players aim to improve baggage flow performance and ramp safety at airport hubs. By automating traffic flows, operators can focus on decision-making and management actions, which saves time and efficiency when handling aircraft.
The testing of this AT135 baggage tractor developed by the subsidiary of companies Charlatte Manutention and NAVYA, CHARLATTE AUTONOM, is the result of a close collaboration between several recognized air transport players, who have been working together to design the airport of the future.
TCR handles the tractor’s daily maintenance requirements. The autonomous vehicle is supervised by agents from the Groupe 3S who have expertise in ground handling operations. Air France also shares its support and expertise with Toulouse-Blagnac airport by integrating its operations and infrastructure into the tests.
Once the passengers’ baggage has reached the baggage sorting area, the autonomous baggage tractor intervenes in the following way:
To carry out its tasks and integrate ramp traffic, the vehicle is equipped with intelligent sensors that enable it to recognize its environment, position itself with great precision, detect obstacles at 360° and make decisions. Thanks to its sensors (Lidar, camera, GPS, odometer) and its autonomous steering software, the vehicle can move around the airport autonomously. The AUTONOM TRACT also communicates with the hub’s traffic signals.
“By facilitating the use of an autonomous baggage tractor and perfectly integrating it into its operational processes, Air France’s ambition is to further optimize its operational performance and improve its customers’ travel experience. This test is the first step to a more widespread roll-out of autonomous vehicles at our airports.”
The autonomous electric baggage tractor has been operational at Toulouse-Blagnac airport every day since 15 November and has been able to navigate the environment autonomously thanks to specific authorizations.
“We are very proud of this world-first operation highlighting in real conditions the added value of our AT135 autonomous tractor, combining the expertise of Charlatte Manutention and NAVYA. The roll-out on a larger scale of autonomous vehicles should contribute to easing increasingly dense logistics flows”
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