Autonomous Baggage Tractors Enhance Operations at Changi Airport

Written by TractEasy
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Airport

A fleet of EZTow autonomous baggage tractors is currently facilitating operations at Singapore’s Changi Airport, as part of a pioneering trial in driverless technology.

Driverless Solutions for Efficient Baggage Transportation

In collaboration with Changi Airport, EasyMile is deploying autonomous technology to streamline the transfer of luggage across the airport premises.

The EZTow driverless tractor, capable of reaching speeds up to 15 km/h, is designed to tow up to four unit loading devices—from the airport’s baggage handling area to the aircraft bay.

Equipped with advanced technologies including lidar sensors, high-definition cameras, GPS, and both 4G and wi-fi connectivity, the tractor’s position can be pinpointed with centimeter-level accuracy. Key project collaborators include gateway services provider SATS, supported by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore.

Futuristic Baggage Tractors for Modern Airports

Currently, the EZTow can haul up to 20 tonnes of luggage, with potential for future enhancements in its towing capacity.

Airside personnel perform numerous critical operations, with one of the principal tasks being the conveyance of passenger baggage to and from aircraft. Approximately 400 traditional baggage tractors are in service at Changi Airport, accounting for about half of all airside vehicles. As part of its commitment to optimizing staff efficiency towards more valuable tasks, the Changi Airport Group (CAG) initiated the trial of these autonomous tractors.

Starting with three autonomous tractors, considered by CAG as a “meaningful number” for evaluating their effectiveness in managing flight services, the trial aligns with CAG’s forward-looking vision for an airport where technology aids in the elevation of airside worker roles.

Envisioning a More Autonomous Future

Despite the challenges posed by Covid-19, CAG continues to pursue advancements in technology and innovation. With reduced vehicle traffic during the pandemic, the Airside Transformation Office took the opportunity to trial autonomous tractors for baggage transfer between the aircraft and the baggage handling area.

Initially tested in Terminal 4 during a halt in flights, the tractors were monitored for their capability to navigate predetermined routes in a vehicle-free setting. Presently, the tractors are operational in Terminal 3’s active environment, integrating with other vehicles as the airport resumes normal operations.

“We’ve just completed the proof of concept, and we’re moving towards live flight operations with our ground handling partners, mainly SATS, to see how this tractor can supplement existing live flight operations” Chia Han Tan, Changi Airport Group