Autonomous solution developers Charlatte Autonom and France’s Toulouse-Blagnac Airport have carried out tests on an autonomous tractor for transporting baggage between the baggage sorting area and aircraft.
The AT135 baggage tractor was developed by Charlatte Autonom, a subsidiary of French firms Charlatte Manutention and Navya, and is the result of close collaboration between several recognized air transportation players.
TCR handles the tractor’s daily maintenance requirements. The autonomous vehicle is supervised by agents from Groupe 3S who have expertise in ground-handling operations. Air France has also shared 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, an agent from Groupe 3S places the baggage in containers connected to the autonomous tractor. The baggage tractor then moves autonomously around the airport to reach the Air France aircraft. Its destination is pre-programmed via a touchscreen by an agent from Groupe 3S.
As it nears the aircraft, the tractor stops and the agent takes control of the vehicle and subsequently loads the baggage into the aircraft hold. The vehicle returns to the baggage sorting area by the same route.
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 and 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.
“This test is a concrete step toward designing the smart airport, one that will be more innovative, connected and more efficient for our customers. It was only natural that this world first took place at Toulouse airport, the pioneer city of aviation,” said Philippe Crébassa, chairman of the Executive Board of Toulouse-Blagnac Airport.