Soliton Systems is trialling for the first time a remote controlled “driverless” baggage tractor for towing baggage trailers in the restricted area of Chubu International Airport with the co-operation of Japan Airlines (JAL) and Chubu Sky Support (CSS).

The towing tractor is an existing vehicle in operation by JAL that has been modified with a remote control system developed by Soliton. The tele-driving centre set-up in Nagoya city will be responsible for the remote operation of this vehicle where CSS employees, who are qualified to drive at Chubu International Airport, will take responsibility for the remote driving.

The communication between the vehicle and the remote centre uses the Smart-telecaster ™ Zao series of video transmission devices that will enable high stability, with ultra-low latency in video streaming and control communication. Three commercial LTE / 4G SIMs from different telecommunications companies will be utilized with the Zao for high reliability and network resilience.

The trial is viewed as an initiative aimed at improving the productivity of freight-towing vehicles in airport operations. The trial will demonstrate that a remote system equipped with functions such as obstacle detection warning, will allow airport stakeholders situated outside the airport to recognize and judge the driving conditions based on these trials and ensure that safety is never compromised. This would open up new opportunities for increased efficiency, especially in a world where there is a lot of pressure on airport operators post Covid.

This tele-driving system uses the remote driving and remote automated driving technology that Soliton has developed and proven on public roads trials, as well as for special environments such as restricted areas in ports, construction sites, and airports.

Soliton and the other co-operating companies will evaluate and confirm the effectiveness of remote driving operations through driving trials, and will verify the role of baggage towing tractors in improving productivity in airport operations and the possibility for using remote staff to control vehicles from anywhere in the world safely and securely within an airport perimeter.