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The ABT (Autonomous Baggage Train)

The ABT is an autonomous vehicle, designed to reduce the manual handling of baggage at airports and thereby reducing the high injury rates for baggage workers. It achieves this with its ability to load and unload the baggage automatically, thanks to built-in conveyor belts and smart technology .


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Airport staff working with baggage handling have a tough job, lifting up to 15 tons of baggage per person per day. Every bag gets manually lifted 6 times on its way from check-in to the baggage drop band, which is why the work is repetitive and often leads to back, shoulder, knee, wrist and neck injuries and problems. The ABT (Autonomous Baggage Train) is an autonomous vehicle that is designed to transport baggage between the airport terminals and the airplanes. It has the ability to transport, load and unload bags without manual handling of the baggage – thanks to its built-in conveyor belts and clever autonomous technology that is inspired by the autonomous systems used in large storage facilities and factories.

The only human interaction with the machines happens when The ABT is about to approach the airplane. The computer-controlled vehicle stops around 30 metres from the airplane and waits for a baggage worker to confirm the location of the man-driven mobile baggage band via a built-in touch screen. The ABT then continues and docks to the rear of the mobile baggage band by using an intelligent GPS system together with a camera, positioned at the front of the vehicle. Two or three ABT’s collaborate to create sufficient space to hold all the bags on a medium-sized airplane. The concept shortens the waiting time for passengers, reduces the wear on both baggage and the airport’s baggage bands, and contributes to a safer working environment with less chance for human error.


Umea Institute of Design, Sweden
Faculty Advisors: Per Sihlen, Eva-Lena Backstrom
Design: Simon Larsson

The ABT was presented to leading groups of experts and workers in Sweden within baggage handling and received surprisingly positive feedback. It has also been published in different online media channels and awarded with two international design awards: the Spark Award and a Red Dot. There are early plans to take the concept towards becoming a real product. The ABT has been developed in collaboration with Swedavia (owner of most Swedish airports), TYA and Aviator. This autonomous vehicle could become reality in the future.

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