Cargo Handling

Changi Airport trials new electric, autonomous baggage handling vehicle

Changi Airport trials new electric, autonomous baggage handling vehicle

Changi Airport and Aurrigo are collaborating to test the latest version of its electric-powered autonomous vehicle, the Auto-DollyTug.

The vehicle, which has new ground handling capabilities and is more manoeuvrable than its previous versions, will be put through different scenarios to assess its efficiency and speed when it comes to aircraft turnaround times.

Combining the utility of a baggage tractor and the unit load device (ULD) carrying capability of an airport dolly, the latest Auto-DollyTug can rotate in its own length and, using its sideways drive system, move directly sideways and slide into tight spaces, enabling the swift delivery of a single ULD even when other ground support equipment is in place at the aircraft.

It also features Aurrigo’s auto-loading and release management system that adds two-directional robotic arms to the body to allow the vehicle to autonomously load and unload the ULD from itself.

Professor David Keene, CEO of Aurrigo, said: “[The] Auto-DollyTug is the result of clean sheet of paper thinking, as we didn’t just want a modified conventional tractor that could tow some dollies to an area near the aircraft without a driver.

“Our technology can not only carry a ULD on its body, which maximises carrying capacity without increasing the length of the train, it can also autonomously transfer that ULD directly on to a JCPL or high loader.”

He continued: “This level of capability has been made possible by designing a vehicle to be electric and autonomous from day one.

“We have never built a diesel-powered airport vehicle so we don’t have to work around the compromises of a legacy GSE vehicle product.

“This third-generation Auto-DollyTug has been designed to incorporate the experience we have gained from the extensive airside testing already carried out with our second-generation vehicle at Changi Airport.”

Earlier versions of Aurrigo’s autonomous tug have been on trial at the airport since February 2022, which gave the company the opportunity to deploy its vehicles in a live airside environment and “to push the limits of its technology in a hot and humid climate where extreme rain events are a frequent feature of airside operations”, the company added.

Poh Li San, senior vice president of Terminal 5 specialised systems at the airport, said: “Changi Airport is exploring the use of different vehicles across the airport, especially to automate airside operations.

“The latest [edition of the] Auto-DollyTug has made its airside debut at our airport and we look forward to studying how it handles the challenges of a dynamic airport environment.”

Image credit: Changi Airport Group