IAI hails Singapore robotics demonstrations

13 June 2018
Demonstration of robotic material-handling system at Singapore Changi. Source: IAI

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is looking to build on tests in 2017 of technology to reduce the manpower needed for baggage- and cargo-handling in airports.

The Lahav Division of IAI teamed with ST Engineering in August and November 2017 to win the Aviation Challenge 1 and 2 (AC1 and AC2) contests, organised by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS). The team demonstrated robotic automated systems for material handling at Changi Airport.

“In Aviation Challenge 1, we demonstrated a full-scale operational system for removing bags from the conveyer belt and placing them in an organised way on the trolleys using a fully robotic system,” said Ran Braier, deputy general manager for business development in the IAI Lahav Division. “A robotic arm places them on trolleys without human intervention. All that is required is to touch one button to activate the system.”

Out of the 14 proposed solutions in AC1, the IAI/ST Engineering demonstration system was one of five selected for the final stage: building a full-scale system with funding from CAAS.

A multiflight baggage-handling system tracks, sorts, and transfers each bag to its respective flight for loading onto standard baggage trolleys. Specially designed transfer tables that are installed on existing baggage conveyors direct each bag towards a designated trolley. Robotic arms carefully pick up each baggage item and place it within the trolley for its designated flight.

Advanced 3D sensors scan the baggage trolleys continuously, so that the robot identifies the best location to place each bag.

“Our team also introduced autonomous baggage tractors that navigate autonomously to the plane, using RFID transponders and GPS signals to transport loaded baggage trolleys to the plane,” Braier explained.

The IAI/ST team also created an automated solution called BT Offloader for inbound baggage flows. A fully robotic system tilts gently to about 45°, offloading arrival bags onto an inbound conveyor belt for onward transport to the reclaim carousels.

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