Japan’s ShinMaywa Industries developed new technology to position PBBs
09 April 2018
Japan’s ShinMaywa Industries has developed technology that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically position passenger boarding bridges (PBB) as close as 10 cm to aircraft doors, significantly closer than existing bridges. The technology is expected to help airports deal with a shortage of ground staff as the new bridges do not require highly skilled operators. The company has a significant share of the Southeast Asian market for passenger boarding bridges, including all units currently in use at Singapore Changi Airport. ShinMaywa successfully vetted the technology in a series of tests starting in November 2016 at Tokushima Awaodori Airport (TKS) on the western Japanese island of Shikoku. The more than 2,600 tests on different aircraft models included 1,050 trials on the Boeing 767. Cameras and a laser gauge help to position the new bridge, with the 10-cm gap so small that the bridge does not require a great deal of skill to complete the operation, according to Kunihiro Atarashi, general manager of ShinMaywa’s airport equipment department. AI is used to process image data from the cameras, allowing the bridge to operate in diverse environments, including at dusk or in bad weather. The bridge can also adapt its movements to suit different types of aircraft. By 2020, ShinMaywa hopes to have developed a PBB that can fully connect to aircraft without any human assistance.