Wed, Nov 27, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Airport to test driverless vehicles to ferry people

‘SMART AIRPORT’:Passengers who want to access the service would need to use a mobile app, and a driverless vehicle would arrive to take them to the parking garage

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan International Airport Corp (TIAC) yesterday said it would next year begin testing autonomous vehicles to carry passengers to a parking lot at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

The test is part of the company’s plan to turn the facility into a “smart airport,” company spokesman Lee Jian-kuo (李建國) said, adding that it would also involve self check-in systems and electronic gates at passport control.

The test is to be conducted at Terminal 2’s No. 4 parking lot, Lee said.

Passengers who want to use the service would need to enter their license plate numbers on a mobile app. An automated vehicle would then them up and transport them to their vehicles at the parking lot.

As there would be other vehicles in the parking lot, Lee said that the company has asked the test’s contractor whether the trial could be performed by maintaining a safe distance with other vehicles.

TIAC would also begin testing facial recognition technology to allow passengers to access the airport’s VIP lounge without having to use their boarding passes, Lee said.

The company has yet to set schedules for the trials, he added.

Hsin Tung Yang, a Taipei-based company that operates the food court in Terminal 1, has already been using two robotic waiters to collect empty trays and plates.

Tasa Meng Group, which runs the duty-free shops in Terminal 2, is also to use two robots to offer Taiwanese tea to travelers.

In related news, the airport ranked No. 13 among the world’s 100 best airports this year, its highest ranking in the past few years, in a survey by UK-based consultancy firm Skytrax.

However, it dropped to No. 7 in best airport staff, down from No. 1 in 2015, No. 4 in 2016, No. 1 in 2017 and No. 3 last year.

TIAC said the rise of Japanese airports was the reason it did not make it to the top five this year, as Japan has invested massive amounts of resources in airport facilities in preparation for the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games next year.

While the planned Terminal 3 is considered to be the key to improving the airport’s global ranking, TIAC has failed to attract bidders for the project, which caused it to postpone the completion date to 2024.

Many major developers are occupied with other public infrastructure projects and those from the private sector, the company said.

The airport was accessed by 46.53 million travelers last year, it said, adding that it expects passenger volume would grow by 1 million to 2 million annually in coming years due to increasing numbers of airlines and flights.

Should traveler numbers continue to increase at this rate, the two existing terminals would be accessed by 60 million people annually, which would far exceed their combined capacity of 37 million and compromise service quality, the company said.

TIAC said it is striving to deliver a feasible plan by February, as requested by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

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