Chaos in airports: Effective implementaiton of autonomous mobility solutions are the answer !
“Imaging a duck paddling on water; it’s manic,” an airport baggage handler told BBC News (Airport workers on travel problems — BBC News). That comment seems to sum up the often-chaotic scenes at airports in recent months.
Workers struggling to keep luggage flowing on slow handling systems that haven’t been updated for decades; luggage piled up or left behind; a shortage of airport workers and difficulty recruiting new people; no one available to help passengers with disabilities to get on or off planes; fatigued staff taking sick leave, or just leaving altogether.
This isn’t only about people flying away for their holidays — it’s about business travel and air cargo too. Airport logistics are a crucial part of the global economy.
The narrative is this: airports are struggling to deal with the post-Covid demand for air travel. But that’s not the whole story.
“The reality is that the pandemic has merely accelerated and highlighted problems that were already there,” says Dr Swash, Founder and CEO of Aidrivers.
“Around the world, airports are facing problems due to a lack of human resources. Technology can answer many of the challenges, but most airports haven’t moved fast to take advantage of potentially game-changing ways of operating.”
Airports desperately need technology that will improve their operations and awareness, says Dr Swash. “Well-planned, innovative automation solutions are required to streamline and speed up operations, and to reduce waste.
“Automation has the power to address shortage of labours, easing the pressure on limited human resources and enabling the deployment of staff much more effectively, where they are really needed and sustained.”
For example, Aidrivers is working on a project to develop and demonstrate an innovative autonomous electric wheelchair at airports. “This could transform the airport travelling experience for passengers who need assistance with mobility,” says Dr Swash.
Aidrivers’ AI-enabled autonomous wheelchair’s Trials will focus on moving the autonomous wheelchair smoothly through traffic and people — for example, taking a passenger from check-in area to departure gate.
“An autonomous solution like this would reduce the dependency and easy the travelling experience for people of the determination and enable people with restricted mobility to have their own independence,” says Dr Swash.
Autonomous solutions can also support the movement of baggage and all sorts of goods (food, drink, retail stock) around an airport.
Aidrivers subsidiary Largo Robotics is currently trialling autonomous tow tractors at Tofaş Turk Otomobil Fabrikasi’s vast automotive plant in Turkey. The ‘AutoTow’ tractors, fitted with Aidrivers/Largo’s Autonomous Intelligent Operations System (AIOS) software, are being used to move materials from one side of the factory to the other to support the manufacturing and assembly process, reducing the need for drivers.
Already CE certified, the AutoTow uses natural navigation to navigate autonomously and has state-of-the-art sensors for ultimate operational safety including automatic trailer connection, obstacle avoidance technology and a host of other safety.
Throughout history, technology has been developed to increase efficiency, taking on tasks or processes (previously done by humans) that are exhausting, repetitive or inefficient.
“Today’s young people, often highly educated, simply do not want to pursue a career physical heavy industrial jobs,” says Dr Swash. “They are tech-savvy and have expectations of a sustainable career lifestyle which is best suits in todays society. AI-enabled automation provides the solution.”