Automating the transport of baggage in Changi Airport

Changi Airport Group (CAG) has continued along its innovation journey despite the impact of Covid-19 on the air travel industry.

In fact, with fewer vehicles at the airside, it has presented a good opportunity for CAG’s Airside Transformation Office to trial the transfer of baggage between aircraft and the baggage handling area (BHA) using autonomous tractors.

To improve manpower productivity, CAG, together with the airside community, have been exploring technology to automate baggage transportation, so that workers can focus on last mile operations, which are more complex and difficult to automate.

The team embarked on the proof of technology trial for the autonomous baggage tractor in October 2020 and has since trialled the autonomous tractor in a live operational environment in Terminal 3.

As a safeguard, a safety operator was deployed in the tractor during the trials.

In May 2021, the team progressed to trial driverless operations for selected routes, to test the limits of the autonomous vehicle technology.

From August 2021, CAG will be partnering SATS to trial the autonomous baggage tractors on live flights with the support of CAAS.

Observations from these trials will help Changi refine its thinking on the autonomous vehicle technology, infrastructure requirements and other enablers required to support autonomous vehicle movement on its airside.