USA: Cincinnati Airport Deploys Autonomous Baggage Handling Tugs

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Autonomous vehicles Airport logistics IoT sensors Robotic precision Operational efficiency

In the ever-changing landscape of smart city innovations and the Internet of Things (IoT), places like Cincinnati Airport are emerging as hotbeds for transformative technologies. One such innovation is the integration of automatic vehicle technology to streamline luggage and cargo movement. While the spotlight often shines on robo-taxis, the significance of these autonomous systems in airport operations cannot be overlooked. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) leads the way with Auto-DollyTugs, electric vehicles revolutionizing baggage transport with robotic precision. Aurrigo’s cutting-edge technology, backed by International Airlines Group (IAG), marks a pioneering leap in autonomous airport logistics. CVG’s strategic embrace of technology extends beyond autonomous vehicles, encompassing IoT sensor deployments, exemplifying a forward-looking approach in enhancing operational efficiency and passenger experience. From intelligent baggage movers guided by Auto-Sim technology to IoT sensors tracking passenger flows, CVG sets the stage for the future of airport management. As Mindy Kershner, CVG’s communications manager, highlights, these innovations not only address operational challenges but also align with the airport’s sustainability goals.

As airlines and airports are interested in these applications, the movement of luggage and cargo at airport gates is becoming another application for automatic vehicle technology.

Aurrigo Auto-DollyTug moves cargo for Singapore Airlines.

Auto-DollyTugs: Revolutionizing Airport Logistics

Although robo-taxis may be taking up the majority of the attention in automatic vehicles, they are by no means the only uses of self-driving technology. Some of the applications are just as unappreciated and crucial as moving luggage.

Auto-DollyTugs, electric autonomous vehicles equipped with “robotic arms,” are being used by Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport ( CVG ) to transport luggage and cargo on flight lines.

According to Tenille Houston, vice president of strategy and operations at Aurrigo, a manufacturer of intelligent technology,” this is an industry-first feature that will offer an entirely automatic solution from pick up through loading.” The tugs will be deployed at the airport by Aurrigo in collaboration with International Airlines Group ( IAG ), the parent company of British Airways and other international carriers.

Since this is happening on our airfield, our role at CVG is to act as the host and on-site support, according to older manager for communications Mindy Kershner. ” We are helping with things like navigating the vehicle’s path, giving the team space to work, introducing the partners to other stakeholders, and making sure the airport community on our campus can take advantage of the program.” In order to have a secure and effective campus, we passed an ordinance years previously allowing our tenants to experiment with new technologies.

With the help of Aurrigo’s Auto-Sim technology, which creates a “digital mini” of the airport and establishes an area of geofence for the intelligent baggage movers to operate within, the Auto- DollyTug is integrated into the environment of an airport.

In an email, Houston stated that “airports, with their handled environments and repetitive traffic patterns, are really tempting candidates for automatic vehicles.” ” For tasks like passenger and crew transport, as well as baggage and cargo handling, the structured nature of airport operations can facilitate the healthy integration and effective deployment of such vehicles.”

CVG is familiar with cutting-edge technology. Autonomous floor scrubbers marked the beginning of the airport’s initial foray into AV technology. The airport tested ThorDrive‘s intelligent baggage moving technology in 2021.

According to Kershner,” We are proud of the work we accomplished with ThorDrive to advance autonomous ground-support equipment ( GSE). The airline group is in charge of this program to ensure safe and effective operations, which is the difference.

Airport Automation and IoT Sensors

As part of a deployment of IoT sensor devices to better understand the movement of people and luggage across the airport campus, CVG even collaborated with technology company Veovo. Beginning in 2014, the airport became the earliest airport in the US to use IoT technology in its security screening area. Sensors in that deployment pick up on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals from passengers to track when people enter and exit the Transportation Security Administration area.

According to Kershner, adding technologies like these can help the airline industry deal with worker shortages. There are several efficiencies to be gained from automation from an airline perspective.” Additionally, “one of the essential pillars in our airport sustainability master plan” is the transition to electric vehicles.

Viktor Musil

Victor Musil, pen name for Edouard Py, advocates for inclusive, people-centered city development. His work underscores the importance of ethical considerations and equitable access, shaping the discourse on urban innovation worldwide.

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