SATS and TUM CREATE look to AI to digitise air cargo

Handler and aviation catering services provider SATS is working with TUM CREATE, a research platform for the improvement of Singapore’s public transportation systems, on what they jointly describe as the world’s first artificial intelligence (AI) powered robotic air cargo system.

They believe that SPEEDCARGO will help in the ongoing industry effort to digitise air cargo handling and transform otherwise laborious processes in the airfreight industry.

According to a statement from the two Singapore-based concerns, “The industry stands to benefit from improved productivity and time savings, in addition to higher throughput and load factors.”

The statement outlined: “Using SPEEDCARGO, airlines would be able to optimise their cargo hold based on volume, weight, and other criteria with a click.”

SPEEDCARGO is an integrated system actually made up of three products – CARGO EYE, CARGO MIND and CARGO ARM, which are targeted at optimising cargo acceptance as well as cargo palletisation through intelligent ULD planning and automatic ULD packing.

Its AI-powered operating system “enables seamless data connectivity for end-to-end optimisation, and improves safety and security across cargo operations”, SATS and TUM CREATE said.

Test bed

The SATS Airfreight Terminal in Singapore has been used as a test bed, with TUM CREATE personnel on site since October last year working with SATS during both the prototype development phase and ongoing trials.

According to SATS and TUM CREATE, they have achieved a 99.99% accuracy rate for the dimensioning of accepted cargo during trials of CARGO EYE.

CARGO EYE produces a digital fingerprint for incoming cargo in real time using a 3D camera system for better pallet optimisation.

SATS and TUMCREATE have confirmed that they are currently making progressive enhancements to both CARGO MIND and CARGO ARM with the aim of commercialising each product in a phased approach.

Funding assistance

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) facilitated the project through its Aviation Challenge competition, in which TUM CREATE was awarded S$1.9m for SPEEDCARGO’s prototype development over two years.

The project has also received S$4m in funding from the National Research Foundation Singapore’s Central Gap Fund.

“Piloting this technology in Singapore is part of our wider innovation programme to enhance services and scale our operational efficiency,” commented Alex Hungate, president and chief executive of SATS.

He continued: “These capabilities would enhance our cargo network across Asia Pacific, along with COSYS+, our cloud-based cargo terminal management system, to augment real-time cargo visibility along our digital corridors.”

Suraj Nair, head of SPEEDCARGO Technology, added: “This partnership with SATS is a unique opportunity for us to develop our technology into a fit-for-purpose solution for the airfreight industry.”

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