Schiphol Tests EasyMile Autonomous Baggage Tractor

TractEasy has started taking baggage to the aircraft on the apron at Schiphol Airport in a trial. The aim is to prove the technology’s safety and efficiency as well as how driverless vehicles can be integrated with other traffic at the airport. The trial, which will last until the end of the month, is being carried out in collaboration with KLM Ground Services and Smart Airport Systems.

Operations will start in a defined area in which the baggage process is simulated. In the second phase, the trial will be continued in an operational environment to bring baggage to the aircraft. The autonomous vehicle will be loaded in the baggage area, after which it will navigate to an aircraft stand via a fixed route. The vehicle is manufactured by ground-handling equipment supplier TLD, with EasyMile supplying the autonomous software.

schiphol autonomous baggage tractor
The trial is being carried out in collaboration with KLM Ground Services and Smart Airport Systems.

The tractor is also in a number of other locations around the world including Narita Airportin Japan.

Head of Innovation at Royal Schiphol Group, Hassan Charaf, said:

Despite the coronavirus crisis, we are continuing to invest in quality and innovation. We have launched the ‘Autonomous Airside Operations’ programme in order to work with airport partners step-by-step towards smart and future-proof ground handling. In this early phase, we are focusing on knowledge development through trials at various airports. This will allow us to combine insights and determine which bottlenecks require particular attention and which steps must be taken in the future as we work towards an autonomous airport. On this basis, we will then determine the concrete follow-up steps.

Royal Schiphol Group anticipates that by 2050, the daily operations on the apron at the airports will have changed significantly. The ground-based airport activities (e.g. baggage transport, passenger transport and aircraft towing) will not only be clean, but also smart and autonomous. The aim is ultimately to replace all vehicles on airside with an interconnected fleet of autonomous, emission-free vehicles, in order to guarantee and improve quality in the long term.

Head of Baggage at Royal Schiphol Group, Dennis van Kleef, said:

Jobs remain, even with autonomous technology. In future, it can be used for work for which it is difficult to find employees, or for work that is physically demanding. The human factor will remain crucial, for example in managing work and maintaining an overview. Employees will also be able to focus more on service.

This article was originally published by EasyMile.


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