Toyota Industries and ANA to Test Japan’s First Autonomous Towing Tractors
• The autonomous towing tractors are the first of their kind in Japan.
• Advanced tractors will be tested for two weeks at the end of March 2019 at Saga Airport.
TOKYO, Feb. 12, 2019 - Toyota Industries Corporation, the world’s No.1*1 manufacturer of lift trucks by market share, and All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s largest and 5-star airline for six consecutive years are collaborating to test Japan’s first autonomous towing tractors at Saga Airport.
During this trial, which will be for two weeks at the end of March 2019, the tractors will run a distance of roughly 100 meters in the airport, which is the same distance between the baggage sorting areas and aircraft at Saga Airport. An airport employee will be seated in the autonomous towing truck during the tests and will have the ability to override the system at any time if deemed necessary.
“Efficiency has long been one of ANA’s main goals and these autonomous towing tractors are helping us achieve our targets,” said Shigeru Hattori, Senior Vice President of ANA. “ANA works best when it is streamlined and organized, and the implementation of autonomous towing tractors will allow ANA to boost efficiency across its entire chain of operation while maintaining highest levels of safety. This will increase productivity while also improving traveler satisfaction.”
The towing tractors use 2D/3D LiDAR*2 sensors to automatically detect objects in their path and allow the vehicles to automatically adjust course. This enables the tractor to move safely and accurately along its present route. A road pattern matching system*3 and a GPS system are also housed in the tractor, allowing it to calculate its current location and guide itself.
Toyota Industries and ANA are continuously looking to implement new innovations wherever possible. These advances in technology will aid in the overall acceleration of automation in the aviation and airline industry as a whole.
*1 Based on Toyota Industries Corporation’s assessment.
*2 2D/3D LiDAR is a sensor that can accurately measure the distance between objects by irradiating the object with laser light. The sensor can then measure reflected light and use it to appraise its surroundings.
*3 The road pattern matching system is used to acquire the vehicle’s position by matching an image of the current surface of the road, captured by a camera on the tractor with a previously captured image.
Following the “Inspiration of Japan” high quality of service, ANA has been awarded the respected 5-Star rating every year since 2013 from SKYTRAX. ANA is the only Japanese airline to win this prestigious designation six years in a row. Additionally, ANA has been recognized by Air Transport World as “Airline of the Year” three times in the past 10 years - 2007, 2013 and 2018, becoming one of the few airlines winning this prestigious award for multiple times.
ANA was founded in 1952 with two helicopters and has become the largest airline in Japan, as well as one of the most significant airlines in Asia, operating 78 international routes and 118 domestic routes. ANA offers a unique dual hub model which enables passengers to travel to Tokyo and connect through the two airports in the metropolitan Tokyo, NARITA and HANEDA, to various destinations throughout Japan, and also offers same day connections between various North American, Asian and Chinese cities.
ANA has been a member of Star Alliance since 1999 and has joint venture partnerships with United Airlines, Lufthansa German Airlines, Swiss International Airlines and Austrian Airlines.
Besides the full service and award winner carrier ANA, the ANA Group has two LCCs as consolidated subsidiaries, Vanilla Air Inc. and Peach Aviation Limited. The ANA Group carried 53.8 million passengers in FY2017, has approximately 39,000 employees and a fleet of 260 aircraft. ANA is a proud launch customer and the biggest operator of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
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About Toyota Industries Corporation
Toyota Industries was founded in 1926 in Japan as a manufacturer of the automatic looms which the founder, Sakichi Toyoda had invented and perfected. Since then Toyota Industries has expanded the scope of its business domains and currently manufactures various products including textile machinery, car air-conditioning compressors, automobiles, engines, car electronics, and materials handling equipment. Especially, our lift trucks, car air-conditioning compressors and air-jet looms are world-wide best sellers*4. Toyota Industries Group has approximately 60,000 employees and the net sales is 18,862.6 MM USD ( 2,003.9 bn yen) in FY2017.
*4 Based on Toyota Industries Corporation’s assessment.