Travellers at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) may soon hand their checked bags to a robot rather than a baggage attendant.

The airport is testing autonomous robot vehicles in its international terminal to assist passengers who recheck bags after clearing customs and security when making connections to domestic flights.

The FLEET vehicles developed by the Dutch technology firm Vanderlande can handle about 450 bags per hour.

Connecting passenger place their rechecked bags on the vehicles, which then transport the luggage to the baggage belts. Travellers will use a touch screen to identify their airline in order to determine where to drop their bags; DFW will deploy four FLEET vehicles as part of the test project.

“As we go through the pilot programme, DFW will evaluate this new technology and assess potential applications of robots and autonomous vehicles at different points within the airport,” said Khaled Naja, DFW’s executive vice president of infrastructure and development.

“This particular application is both exciting and challenging for us, because FLEET will be working in a passenger area,” said Andrew Manship, Vanderlande’s executive vice president for airports.

The Dallas Observer reports that the FLEET technology was first tested at Rotterdam The Hague Airport in 2018, and that human baggage attendants will remain on duty in the DFW rechecked baggage area to assist travellers.