Amsterdam Schiphol is trialling two pieces of technology aimed at assisting workers in its baggage handling hall.

The Cobot Lift robot (standing for “Collaborative Robot”) has a large suction pad which can be used to lift and move luggage – it has previously been deployed in other sectors including bakeries, and the airport expects the robot to be able to lift 80 per cent of all baggage during the trial, with the ultimate goal of reaching 90 per cent.

An initial two-week trial will assess “whether expectations will be met in practice and find out how employees experience this technology and what they need for the follow-up”.

Meanwhile a new lifting aid is also being trialled, which consists of a relatively simply piece of equipment enabling handlers to push luggage onto the belt, rather than having to lift them. The airport said that “Within a year, every work location will have a functioning lifting aid that can be used by all employees”.

The trials are part of a wider drive to implement “innovative automation and artificial intelligence solutions” for its baggage handling processes, including a partnership with technology firm Pangiam to explore how artificial intelligence could be used to speed baggage security checks.

Schiphol is also developing a new baggage basement which will feature “the further development of existing robots in the baggage basement, the production of machines that can unload suitcases, and the development of autonomous vehicles that will drive around the baggage basement to move carts and containers”.

Amsterdam Schiphol to build new baggage basement

Commenting on the trials Sybren Hahn, Director Asset Management at Royal Schiphol Group, said:

“Work in the baggage handling hall and on the apron is crucial in enabling all travellers to go on their journeys. We want everyone at Schiphol to have a good workplace and and therefore want to use technology to improve working conditions.

“In the coming period, we will test at least five more lifting aids and several fully automated solutions, some of which are new in aviation.”

Earlier this year Schiphol also announced plans to trial the use of self-driving buses on the airport’s apron.

Amsterdam Schiphol to trial self-driving buses