Fraport tests autonomous tractor for cargo handling

Source: Fraport

Airport operator Fraport is trialling an autonomous cargo tractor at Frankfurt Airport as it considers automating some operations.

The aim of the trial, which will last several weeks, is to determine whether an autonomous vehicle can support regular baggage and cargo operations on the apron.

The electric vehicle will operate on an eight km test route within Frankfurt Airport’s secure area, starting in the eastern section of the apron in the baggage handling facility at terminal two, before heading southwards and approaching the future terminal 3.

“The trial section is divided into three components, each of which present particular challenges for the autonomous vehicle,” Fraport said.

“These include operations inside the baggage handling facility amidst other traffic and people, as well as in the open where there are few other vehicles.

“To ensure the outcome reflects real-life conditions with sufficient complexity, the test drives will take place both during the day and at night, in different types of weather.”

The vehicle will operate at a maximum speed of 13 km and will tow a maximum of three baggage trailers or two large cargo trailers.

A safety driver who has received special training and certification for the project will be present on each test drive in case of emergencies.

Dennis Stein, vice president division development, logistics, and IT, said: “For Fraport, this project is of high importance because of its potential to facilitate more efficient deployment of staff in the future. Due to the size of the airport apron, our employees often have to cover long distances.

“If parts of these routes could be operated using autonomous vehicles, this would give the Ground Services teams more flexibility to handle flights even more efficiently.”

Frankfurt the latest European airport to register a cargo decline in 2022

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Damian Brett

Damian Brett
I have been writing about the freight and logistics industry since 2007 when I joined International Freighting Weekly to cover the shipping sector.After a stint in PR, I have gone on to work for Containerisation International and Lloyds List - where I was editor of container shipping - before joining Air Cargo News in 2015.Contact me on [email protected]