Munich Airport test runs “evoBOT” which automizes air freight

Published: Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Frankfurt, Germany— Munich Airport has successfully test ran “evoBOT” in handling automated tasks at its cargo terminal, suggesting the use of more autonomous vehicles and robots in air freight, especially in times of skilled workers shortage.

Developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML, the evoBOT is built with arms enabling it to load and pickup cargo. It can take on a wide range of tasks such as handling hazardous goods, transporting parcels for longer recurring distances, relieving employees during lifting and overhead work, procuring materials or even providing support during the loading and unloading of aircraft.

Despite its load capacity, the evoBOT is exceptionally agile on its two wheels. It can reach a maximum speed of up to 60 km/h and transport a load of up to 100 kg. It can operate either alone or with others. Thanks to its good maneuverability, the evoBOT can be operated in various areas both indoors and outdoors. Its low carbon footprint also contributes to its diverse use.

“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,” explains Jost Lammers, Chief Executive Officer of Munich Airport.

Professor Michael ten Hompel, Managing Director of Fraunhofer IML, noted, “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 practical test carried out at Munich Airport impressively underpins the potential of this development. The evoBOT can work as a fellow colleague in a wide range of applications.”

The Digital Testbed Air Cargo (DTAC), in the context of which the current test was carried out, and the initial development of evoBOT are funding programs of the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV). In addition to Cargogate Munich Airport GmbH and Fraunhofer IML, the DTAC project consortium includes nine other partners from research and industry.

“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,” said Claudia Weidenbusch, Managing Director of Cargogate Munich Airport GmbH.