The airport tarmac is a dangerous environment for people, where they perform repetitive tasks with low added value. We believe it is a good place for the automation of logistics processes. In 60 years, the tarmac operations have not really changed, and we want to revolutionize it!
The airport sector faces many issues, each one of them can become very expensive if badly addressed. Among them, the main ones we retained are • Turnaround duration, which is critical
• The constant number of passenger growth, it doubles almost every 20 years and some airports are already overloaded
• The quality of service: haven’t you already had a problem with your own baggage?
Regarding this specific use-case, our customers and users are ground-handlers:
They have especially 3 issues:
- Competition, as call for tenders are very aggressive, and their margin very low
- An important turnover, as it is a difficult job and logistic sector cannibalize jobs
- Any aircraft damage, even if they are rare, represent a big amount of money
The robotization globally is a mean to liberate humans from repetitive tasks, which are sources of errors. Robots introduce more reliability and security, while AI reduces coordination efforts. It can be applied on many use cases in an airport. We selected baggage transport first
We have a complete solution composed of a fleet of autonomous guided vehicles, piloted by a supervision server. The robot is omnidirectional, it means that he can move in any direction, as on a cushion of air, it brings a better manoeuvrability. The server contains our AI which optimize logistic flows, collect and analyse many data from robots’ sensors
Let’s take a concrete example: if we want to automatize completely CGC, we would need an investment of 80m€. Thanks to this, we would save 35m€/year compared to a manual solution. This is an operational cost reduction of 50%. What allows those savings is the drivers removal. In addition to that operational cost reduction, we reduce the number of equipment we need on the ground (up to 65%), it is because we removed the coupling that we can do that, we automatize the trailer and not the tractor, and it is our main differentiator.
Indeed, doing this allows just-in-time introduction, the first robot will go directly after being loaded whereas in the actual solution you must wait for the whole train to be loaded. One interesting KPI is the first delivery bag which is reduced. Introducing just-in-time allows to reduce the number of equipment needed on the ground, hence optimizing place used and giving the opportunity to re-think the way tarmac is organized. Finally, our solution is flexible, it is easy to adjust the number of robots to accompany the growth or for the user to play on its operational cursors such as quality, delay, costs.
The ground support equipment market is estimated at 87 billion €. If we focus on Europe, and on baggage tractor only, it is estimated at 4 billion € in 2017. We consider that it will follow passenger growth, and by analogy with logistic sector, 10% of this will be automatized. Which gives a market, in Europe, of 800 million € in 2036. We ambition to be among top 3 players to share this. Our competitors to date have not yet launched their products. When we started the project, we were the first one to talk about automation. Currently, TLD and Charlatte are experimenting an automated tractor and hope to commercialize it in 2020. The strength of them is to have an existing network and installed base. But we consider their solution is not enough as it only offers operational cost reduction whereas our solution offers logistics gains in addition. Moreover, they do not master such technology and only have a tractor constructor vision.
Our technology, mobile robotics combined with omnidirectionality are our main differentiators. They allow more benefits than just cost reduction. We want to stay always ahead by continuing to innovate and keeping our advance, we already have other ideas for that, and we need to move faster. Our environment is also a strength as better engineers are often more attracted by start-ups world.
After having developed a 40% scale prototype, we are currently working on a real size prototype, which will be tested in Lyon Saint Exupéry airport during next spring. For that we already have a partnership with a ground handler. We already had the trainings and credentials to access LYS airport. On the server side, we have a simulation of airports which allowed us to validate our first estimation in term of gains.
To transform this prototype into a MVP, we will soon launch a first fund raising, we are seeking for 400k€ in equity, which we will be completed with non-dilutives money. We already had 380k€ in the past. The goal is to have 18 months after a Série A to go to industrialization, and 18 months after to a Série B for mass production. Our turnover will be made through direct sales and maintenance contracts, we target 100 million € in 2030. It will grow along with our production capacity, until we are able to produce 500 robots per year. Then our growth will be ensured by maintenance contracts.
We are two complementary founders: - William is the technical director. Supaero engineer, he has experience in robotics, logistics and has worked several years as embedded software engineer, architect or system architect in highly regulated and secured environments
- Pierrick, the CEO, I have experience in multidisciplinary team management in international contests, we met together while working in Fresenius, William was working on the embedded software of medical devices, I was focusing on supervision and interoperability solutions.
To remember our respective role, it’s pretty easy: I find the money, William use it!
We are supported by Réseau Entreprendre, Linksium, Polytechnique and BPI Andrew Price, whom William met during a training on baggage handling and strongly supported our project.