A webinar with Velodyne Lidar, ThorDrive and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) discussed how autonomous vehicles (AV) can provide cargo and baggage services at airports.
The session, which included Pamela Gauci, Velodyne’s Director, Events and Marketing, Edward Shelton, Vice President of Business Development at ThorDrive and Brian Cobb, Chief Innovation Officer at CVG Airport, was part of the Velodyne Lidar LIVE! digital learning series.
ThorDrive is using Velodyne’s lidar sensors to power its cargo and baggage ground support tractors in a groundbreaking AV program at the CVG Airport. ThorDrive AVs, equipped with multiple Velodyne Ultra Puck sensors, were developed live in complex, safety-critical environments at CVG’s gates. Their proof of concept aims to advance airport safety and cargo efficiencies, with units to be sold by the end of 2021.
Here are three takeaways from the webinar:
CVG has a 7,700 acre campus with an extensive infrastructure – which Brian called “a city within a city.” He noted the airport’s unique position enables it to put smart cities into action on the campus. With this mindset, Brian said CVG is committed to robotics – which makes the airport a great environment for ThorDrive’s AVs to autonomously transport baggage and cargo to and from planes and throughout facilities at any time, day or night.
Eddie commented on the imperative of safety in airport operations and how using lidar-based autonomy to reduce human operator error is a big part of their ground transport goals. He added that without lidar the vehicles can’t reliably tell how close planes and other objects are to the vehicles and how best to clear a path around them as necessary. Brian continued by noting foreign objects on runaways are not uncommon and lidar’s ability to detect those objects goes beyond what the human eye can do.
Brian praised the ThorDrive approach of retrofitting existing vehicle platforms with autonomous capabilities. He cited that with airports not in financial position to replace their entire baggage fleets, the ability to retrofit part of a fleet is a smart approach. Brian added AV baggage carriers can also help reduce damage expenses, noting AVs obey every traffic law – including speed, stop and yield signs – which lower accident risk and costs.
Watch the full Velodyne Lidar, ThorDrive and CVG Airport webinar session below!