Groupe ADP and Air France KLM Martinair Cargo have been testing an airside cargo transport solution—an autonomous electric vehicle—by French startup OROK at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport since August 2021.

The goal of this experiment is to optimise, secure and decarbonise ground operations, on airside and service lanes around the aircraft, for the benefit of all players in the airport value chain.

On this initiative, Edward Arkwright, Deputy CEO of Groupe ADP commented, “Thanks to this experiment with OROK’s autonomous vehicle, we are testing innovative tools alongside Air France to improve the performance and safety of air freight activities, for which Paris- Charles de Gaulle is one of the leading airports. This autonomous technology is promising to help us transform our processes, while contributing to the environmental transition of our ground operations.”

Equipped with a state-of-the-art GPS system and numerous sensors enabling it to access loading and unloading areas close to the aircraft, these autonomous vehicles are supervised by a server with artificial intelligence. Able to convey between 30 and 40 suitcases, luggage container or pallets loaded with goods, these new vehicles are intended to replace tractors and trailers usually used between cargo warehouses or baggage sorting centres and aircraft parking stands.

This solution is being carried out in surrounding Air France Cargo’s “G1XL” cargo warehouse. The test consists, initially, in transporting empty aircraft containers between two areas inside the warehouse using a first “demokart” prototype vehicle. The tests will, then gradually, evolve with using of a new generation of more efficient vehicles.

Christophe Boucher, Executive Vice President of Air France KLM Martinair Cargo stated, “Air France continues to work on innovative viable projects enabling the company to improve the efficiency and reliability of its operations, as well as reducing its carbon footprint. Since summer 2021, the Cargo teams have been pleased to welcome the start-up OROK at the G1XL freight station. This start-up is testing the transport of pallets and containers using autonomous vehicles. This joint collaboration with Groupe ADP illustrates our collective ambition to support promising projects for reducing the carbon footprint of our ground activities.”

These autonomous electric vehicles offer several benefits: decrease of accidents on the runway, faster delivery for goods or luggage, reduction of surface requirements for maneuvering and more.

Pierrick Boyer, President and co-founder of OROK added, “We strongly believe in the complete automation of the tarmac because, thanks to this type of solution, we bring operational peace of mind and better working conditions, while reducing operational costs and expenses related to accidents and the reprocessing of cargo and baggage. Not to mention the optimisation of flows and the ecological aspect since our solution is 100% electric.”

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