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Aircrafts surroundings, categorised Vehicles & Individuals Tracking for apRon's Activity model interpretation & Check (AVITRACK)

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What’s in the apron now?

The airport apron, sometimes referred to as tarmac, is a vital hub of activity. It is here that loading and unloading of passengers, baggage and airline meals occur, as well as refuelling, servicing and parking of the aircraft – and it is here that many things concerning efficiency and safety can go wrong.

Industrial Technologies

There are many people and vehicles moving in and out of the airport apron in very short periods of time. The ability to monitor and track this movement in real time is a complex task that, to date, has not been successfully accomplished. Thus, the ‘Aircrafts surroundings, categorised vehicles & individuals tracking for apron's activity model interpretation & check’ (Avitrack) project was designed to tackle this important and difficult problem. The researchers chose the Toulouse-Blagnac airport for development of the Avitrack system. First, they developed the so-called static (unchanging) component of the system, a three-dimensional (3D) geometric model of the apron area. It included the apron itself with operational functions of specific areas, such as the waiting area, tanker area and gateway evolution area, together with the aircraft and all potential contact points. The latter include refuelling point, passenger doors and cargo doors. This module was called the ‘apron scenes and actors’ database. In order to be useful, project partners developed the dynamic (changing) component related to various basic and combined handling events scenarios forming the so-called ‘apron activities’ database. Then, they combined video tracking and image processing software for detection of movements and classification of detected objects based on pre-defined geometries. Finally, they used a multi-sensor data fusion technique to combine the static and dynamic models with the real-time images to create a real-time 3D representation of activities and movements in the apron area that were interpreted using artificial intelligence. The resulting information was dispatched to the apron manager, airport authorities, airlines and security services. The complex, real-time Avitrack system has the potential to increase both the efficiency and security of the apron servicing progress, of paramount importance to airport authorities, aircraft operators and passengers alike. The system could also be adapted for many other transport activities, including rail, subway and port transfers.

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