Intelligent Mule (Mobile Utility for Luggage Entrusting)

Programme Bando Industria 2015 – Nuove Tecnologie per il Made in Italy
(articolo 1 comma 842 della legge 27 dicembre 2006)
Decreto del 10.07.2008 GU n.205 del 02.09.2008 - Suppl. Ordinario n.207

Area Obiettivo: AREA A – Rinnovo e Capitalizzazione delle competenze distintive

Duration 01 january 2012 – 30 june 2015

Fondazione Ugo Bordoni
ADR Engineering
Thales Italia
Università degli Studi di Roma 1 -Dipartimento di Informatica e Sistemistica (DIS)

Web Site www.progetto-imule.it

The project is aimed at developing an innovative solution designed to overcome the limitations of current systems used for baggage handling, optimized for the airport locations. It consists in the production of a prototype system based on the employment of robotic vehicles, free to move independently and without constraints, from check-in desk to the loading bays located near the runway. The goal is to achieve a complete system, although still a prototype, to test the functionality of the whole process of sorting luggage to be loaded at the airport, which will work in a real situation at a location that will be made available by the ADR company. Each vehicle will be able to carry a single baggage passing through specific check-points (for example, X-ray security check) and coming back into a waiting area for subsequent reuse. The baggage’s loading and unloading processes on/from a vehicle can be both manual and automated. The vehicles will be able to move within a confined and reserved area, even though staff will be allowed to access for handling malfunction or emergency situations.

In essence, through this project it will be possible to achieve numerous advantages when compared to the current baggage handling systems used in airport applications, such as:

  • minimizing service downtime in case of malfunctions, with the consequent system reliability improvement
  • possibility to use each vehicle in different operational airport areas
  • high path flexibility
  • possibility to optimize the speed of the vehicle to increase the system efficiency

The effective drive of the vehicles along the optimal delimited routes, avoiding potential collisions while maintaining a high overall speed of the baggage flow, requires, in addition, the definition of:

  • a localization system such to allow each vehicle to be aware, with sufficient precision, of its position with respect to the dynamics of the system and the geometry of the path to be covered
  • an efficient communication system between the supervision center and the single vehicle, such to relay commands with response time that will allow the vehicle to promptly react

As a consequence, during the development of the project will be studied and developed the most appropriate solutions to reach the mentioned objectives, ranging across several industrial disciplines such as:

  • automation
  • mechanics
  • sensoristic and localization
  • telecommunication
  • power supply systems
  • security

At the same time, it will be developed and experimented techniques and proprietary solutions duly selected, also integrated with products already on the market.
All of this using the professionalism and experience acquired in different sectors, such as industrial area and scientific research area, from the proposing companies, teamed to develop the project. The intention is to focus the efforts of different participants towards the common goal to create a product, fully Made in Italy, which allows the integration of robo-mechanotronic systems with specific functional modules, finalized to the construction of prototypal smart devices, that may communicate and interface with remote control systems able to support the movement of elements employed in the management of BHS lines (Baggage Handling System), paving the way, at the same time, to other applications in industrial and civil areas which may take advantage from a modern solution of "intelligent mule" (I-MULE).