Robots bridging the manpower gap: Munich Airport’s autonomous evoBOT robot
Munich Airport recently tested the evoBOT, a robot developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML. evoBOT reportedly “mastered” a first practical test in the cargo terminal and on the apron of Munich Airport.
The transport robot has two wheels and gripper arms, enabling it to handle hazardous goods, transport parcels for longer recurring distances, relieve employees during lifting and overhead work, procure materials, or even provide support during the loading and unloading of aircraft. According to the press release, evoBOT is also agile, capable of reaching a maximum speed of up to 60km/h and transport a load of up to 100kg whilst being operated in various environments, suited to both indoor and outdoor work.
Reflecting on the successful practical test of the evoBOT, Jost Lammers, Chief Executive Officer of Munich Airport said:
“The development and expansion of the cargo and logistics sector are essential components of our corporate strategy. We welcome every initiative to optimize and digitalize handling processes. The evoBOT will facilitate the day-to-day work of our employees in the cargo area and make the workplace more attractive.”
Claudia Weidenbusch, Managing Director of Cargogate Munich Airport GmbH built upon this sentiment adding:
“Against the backdrop of rising air freight figures and the challenges of recruiting employees, we are very pleased to be able to take a look into the future with Fraunhofer IML. Into the very near future at that.”
The repercussions for the human workforce were similarly noted by Professor Michael ten Hompel, Managing Director of Fraunhofer IML, who explained:
“Our evoBOT is the beginning of a new population of autonomous vehicles and robots. With its arms and the fact that it moves on two wheels, it represents a step on the path to the humanoid future of robotics. […] The evoBOT can work as a fellow colleague in a wide range of applications.”
As industries struggle with a depleted workforce, a strain is placed on existing employees. The integration of robots into ground operations can increase efficiency and productivity, especially while manpower is short. Emphasised by evoBOT’s physical strength and agility detailed in the press release, technology can alleviate the load of physically demanding jobs freeing up the human workforce to focus their efforts on roles that require interpersonal skills, critical thinking, and problem solving abilities.
Although the growing presence of robots in the industry presents an opportunity for dramatically enhanced productivity, it brings with it some challenges. By changing the nature of work and forcing adaption, transitional problems will undoubtably arise.
For more on technology at airports see:
- Marcelo Mota, Commercial Director and CCO, Aeroportos Brasil Viracopos – “Tech is an extremely powerful tool to leverage competitivity and the success of business activities.”
- Reshaping the airport queuing experience. Veovo’s Queue Balancer solution at Keflavik Airport