Changi Airport to trial autonomous UK tech for luggage unloading

Autonomous baggage handling vehicles at Singapore Changi Airport.
Photo Credit: Changi Airport

LONDON – Singapore Changi Airport has reported that is has signed a deal with Aurrigo, a UK-based autonomous vehicle technology firm. The agreement states that the two will jointly develop and test Aurrigo’s airport simulation software and auto baggage loading and unloading vehicles.

The two parties are already familiar with one another, having worked closely for a number of years. This will run alongside an agreement that was signed in late October 2022 for the continued development of Aurrigo’s Auto-Dolly. 

“We have worked closely with the team at Changi for several years and this partnership cements our collaboration to bring the best automated solutions to airlines and airports, enabling them to improve efficiency, safety and sustainability”, said David Keene, Chief Executive Officer at Aurrigo.

The development of Aurrigo’s autonomous baggage handling products is partially funded by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore.

Financing comes from a fund intended to develop the aviation industry (ADF) by using cutting edge new technologies.

The Auto-Dolly can move from one job to another, navigating itself autonomously without the need for human input.

Electric units such as these mean that the future state of aviation aprons could change dramatically if these vehicles are able to signal the demise of traditional fuel tugs and tractors.

This partnership will allow Aurrgio to demonstrate its autonomous solutions to those in the industry that may wish to utilise their vehicles in the future.  

Auto Dolly unloading ULD. Photo Credit: Changi Airport
Auto Dolly on road. Photo Credit: Changi Airport

Revolutionising airport operations 

Outlining the struggles many airports around the world face in trying to attract enough ground handling staff to operate efficiently, Senior Vice President of Terminal 5 Planning and Changi Airport, Poh Li San said:

“Similar to major airports throughout the world, recruiting enough ground handling personnel and drivers to support our growth is a challenge.”

“We have been encouraged by Aurrigo’s innovative autonomous technologies to help address these issues, and we’re excited to partner Aurrigo in joint development and testing of these solutions.”

Hopefully UK airports such as Manchester and Heathrow are keeping a close eye on this technology – their struggles to recruit in the post-Covid era have been well documented during the course of summer 2022. 

Both major UK airports saw considerable disruption up to and including cancelling flights due to a lack of staff in key areas.

Their problems became so bad at one point that some unlucky travellers were forced to leave Manchester without their luggage, with only blind hope that the airport would successfully reunite them with it in the days afterward.

Changi appears to be leading the way in the breakthrough for autonomous vehicle solutions to increase its sustainability, but also reducing its reliance on needing humans to carry out sometimes laborious tasks on a daily basis. 

Last year the redesign and overhaul of what will be the new Terminal 5 at Changi restarted. Expected to start construction in 2024, it will having more capacity than terminals 1 and 3 put together, whilst offering the most modern and sustainable services the airport industry has to offer.

The introduction of these vehicles could revolutionise how airports operate. All too often we find ourselves disembarking from a jet wanting a swift airport experience, only to be held up by the luggage removal from the aircraft to the carousels.

By Jamie Stokes 4 Min Read
4 Min Read
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