The machines could be mistaken for a baggage cart if not for the computer monitor strategically positioned on top of it. They look like robots with the body of baggage cart and a computer monitor for a head. Their mission: No Luggage Left Behind. The future of baggage control.
One of the machines named Leo detects a woman walking hurriedly with her luggage in tow, he approaches her and stops right beside her. Smiling, the woman picks up the hand scanner that Leo always carries with him. She then scans her gate pass with it and Leo immediately prints out the baggage tag while displaying on his monitor head the gate number and the boarding time for the woman to see.
The woman takes note of her gate number and boarding time and loads her luggage to Leo’s belly which closes soon after the bags are in. Leo then takes the woman’s luggage to the airport’s baggage handling area where it will be loaded onto the woman’s flight.
Welcome to the baggage handler of the future. According to Luggage Direct, the future is not far off. Leo the baggage robot featured in the scene above is one such baggage handling system that will be installed in airports all over the world come June 2018. Once fully implemented, these baggage management systems will definitely change the airport experience as we know it.
Leo The Baggage Robot
According to the Societe Internationale de Telecommunications Aeronautiques (SITA), the company behind Leo The Baggage Robot, Leo gives a glimpse into the future use of robotics in airports to further streamline the baggage handling process.
Leo has already been trialled in Marrakech’s Manara Airport and Casablanca’s Mohammed V International Airport. It is just a matter of time before Leo and company become regular features in other African airports. SITA is currently discussing the technology with many airports in all parts of the globe.
Leo The Baggage Robot is named after the great Italian artist Leonardo Da Vinci and can carry a maximum of two travel bags with a combined weight of up to 32 kilograms. The baggage robot is so named in honour of Leonardo Da Vinci who is believed to be the first human to conceived the idea of robots when he made a sketch of a mechanical knight.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) requires all its members consisting of 200 airports and 500 hundred airlines all over the world to implement a centralized baggage handling and tracking system to ensure that all baggage is tracked and accounted for from check-in to passenger pick up starting June 2018.
IATA’s request is contained in what is known as Resolution 753. Airports and airlines are required to install the latest baggage tracking and handling technology to make sure that no luggage is left behind by the airlines or misdirected to another destination. Leo The Baggage Robot is just one of many technological solutions that are being explored by airports.
Other baggage handling tools that airports and airlines have already adopted include SITA’a Scan&Fly, Beumer Group’s Video Coding System (VCS), RFID Technology, and SITA’s BagJourney.
Scan&Fly is a first-of-its-kind airport baggage handling tool. It is the world’s first touch-less bag drop system that allows travellers to check-in their luggage even without a pre-tagged bag. Currently, there are 30 airports serving 50 different airlines using Scan&Fly. The airport, the airline, and the passengers themselves attest to the efficiency of Scan&Fly.
Passengers, in particular, benefited from greatly reduced queue times and prompt processing which made luggage check-in stress-free. Scan&Fly is one of the luggage handling tools that makes airports and airlines Resolution 753 compliant.
Beumer Group’s Video Coding System (VCS)
Copenhagen Airport has begun using an equally efficient baggage handling and tracking system which utilizes a video coding system (VCS). The machine could still identify and read a luggage check in information even if the tag is crumpled or damage thereby eliminating the possibility of the luggage getting misdirected or lost.
The VCS is equipped with automatic tag reader cameras which allows the operator to zoom in to view crumpled or folded tags of luggage wherever it may be located. The machine uses a software similar to what is widely used in the parcel industry. Copenhagen Airport has reduced its no-read tag rate by around 50% as a result of using the VCS.
Another promising baggage handling tool which could significantly reduce no-read tag rates among airports is the Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. RFID readers uses radio waves to read RFID tags embedded into bag tags which makes it possible to locate luggage whose tags are either hidden or crumpled.
Besides Scan&Fly, SITA has another baggage handling system that airlines and airports can implement to comply with Resolution 753. BagJourney functions as a repository of all baggage handling information from luggage check-in all the way to its delivery to wherever the passenger destination is.
If for some reason the passenger’s luggage fails to make onto the aircraft, BagJourney makes it easier to locate the luggage because it is linked to SITA’s WorldTracer System which tracks lost luggage. Using the BagJourney system, the passenger, while onboard the aircraft, can request a search for his or her luggage so that by the time the plane lands, the lost luggage would have been located and is on its way to be delivered to its owner.
Both SITA and IATA are convinced that no luggage will ever be lost or left behind once all airports and airlines are fully compliant with Resolution 753. I’m so ready for that day.