Sensors enable autonomous control for airport vehicles

| Information and Communication Technology

Velodyne lidar sensors assist guidance of TractEasy autonomous electric baggage tractors

Lidar technology is being used on electric baggage handlers to bring autonomous control to airport road vehicles.

The possibilities for autonomous control of vehicles are extensive within the enclosed perimeters of the world’s airports. Efforts to reduce emissions and improve efficiencies have gained benefit recently with a greater push to make airport vehicles all electric and guided under autonomous control.

One such vehicle is a baggage handling vehicle from US manufacturer TLD. The TractEasy vehicle uses Velodyne lidar sensors within its guidance and control systems, enabling safe and efficient navigation on roadways in a variety of weather conditions.

TractEasy is a driverless zero-emission towing tractor that transfers baggage and freight from airport terminals to aircraft areas on service roads. It can also handle ground transportation of goods at industrial sites and distribution centres – both indoor and outdoor. TractEasy can drive up to 25 km/h and has a maximum traction capacity of 25 tons.

According to Nicolas Verin, CEO of TLD Europe, the sensors help TractEasy to navigate and manoeuvre in complex and live ramp environments to move cargo in a safe, reliable way and does not require any infrastructure change.

“Velodyne’s lidar sensors power our tractors to increase productivity and reduce operational costs in airport baggage handling,” he says.

According to Erich Smidt of Velodyne Lidar, TractEasy increases operational flexibility and efficiency for ground transportation of goods. “They demonstrate how Velodyne lidar sensors provide the range and field of view needed to gain visibility on what’s ahead on dynamic roadways, and detect and avoid potential obstacles for safe logistics operations,” he says.

The company’s surround-view lidar sensors produce data-rich images with the ability to detect low reflectivity objects. These sensors are optimised for outstanding indoor/outdoor performance, operating in a variety of light conditions. By combining high-resolution 3D perception with a broad vertical field of view, they enable accurate detection of pedestrian crossings, curbs and obstacles on roadways.

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