Autonomous Baggage Tractor at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport Goes Fully Driverless and Extends Route

The autonomous tow tractor at Toulouse-Blagnac airport has progressed to Level 4 of autonomous driving (completely removing any human on board) with an extended route, allowing for more complex use.

A red autonomous tow tractor at an airport
“Airport autonomous tow tractor adoption is ready for take off”

The step is a key part of Alyzia’s, one of the airport’s ground handling services, goal to serve more flights and optimize baggage handling while guaranteeing everyone’s safety.

The EZTow has been running at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport since late-2022. Partners in the deployment are Alvest Group, TLD and Smart Airport Systems for the vehicle, EasyMile for the driverless technology, and Alyzia. The goal is to demonstrate how autonomous vehicles can optimize luggage and freight logistics.

Progressing to Level 4 is not just a technological achievement, it is a critical milestone in demonstrating the value of an industrial autonomous vehicle. By removing any human intervention on board, cost and time efficiency, scalability and flexibility are unlocked.It shows that driverless applications like this are not only truly capable of maneuvering and navigating complex scenarios on their own, but that they are also commercially viable.

The vehicle’s route prolongation from 800m to 2000m will extend its use to more situations in the airport, such as studying baggage tracks and optimizing trajectories and maneuvers. The new route also adds challenges like narrow trajectories in the indoors area, also known as the luggage gallery, and more interactions with other traffic.

This demonstrates the readiness of driverless solutions for commercial operations at airports, phasing them in with the range of manually-driven vehicles still in operation. In Toulouse-Blagnac’s case, this means specifically the towing of luggage from landing positions to the baggage hall. The service is also an opportunity to test the EZTow on various airport infrastructure elements such as intersections, roundabouts, and turning circles, and in different weather conditions like rain, fog, and snow.

A red autonomous tow tractor in a depot

The solution is the most-deployed autonomous tow tractor globally. Multiple EZTows are also in use at Narita International in Japan, and in a fleet at Changi Airport in Singapore. They also operate on a number of major automotive manufacturing plants and logistics centers in Europe and the United States, including the BMW Group Plant Dingolfing and Daimler Truck AG, in Germany.

Richard Reno, CEO of TractEasy, the independent distributor of EZTow and joint venture between TLD and EasyMile said:

Airport autonomous tow tractor adoption is ready for take off.

Now, with technology evolution, building pools of autonomous vehicle expertise and growing understanding of and capability to address operation environment barriers in the airport market, autonomous tow tractor deployments are set to take off paving the way for improved safety, higher efficiency and lower operating cost at airports around the world. They have emerged as a key part of an airport’s automation solution.

This article was originally published by EasyMile.


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