The automation of airfreight at your fingertips


Autonomous vehicles and robots will have a major impact on the future of airfreight in times of a shortage of skilled workers. 

Developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML, the evoBOT now offers a first taste of this. With its two wheels and gripper arms, the robot – which keeps itself perfectly balanced – mastered a first practical test in the cargo terminal and on the apron of Munich Airport.

Airfreight is currently undergoing a profound transformation. Despite a shortage of skilled workers, high throughput rates have to be managed, while digitalisation is advancing at an ever faster pace. The evoBOT provides an initial response to this development. During its first test runs at Cargogate at Munich Airport, the autonomous robot proved how versatile it is. “The development and expansion of the cargo and logistics sector are essential components of our corporate strategy. We welcome every initiative to optimise and digitalise handling processes. The evoBOT will facilitate the day-to-day work of our employees in the cargo area and make the workplace more attractive,” Jost Lammers, Chief Executive Officer of Munich Airport, explained.

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“Our evoBOT is the beginning of a new population of autonomous vehicles and robots. With its arms and the fact that it moves on two wheels, it represents a step on the path to the humanoid future of robotics. The practical test carried out at Munich Airport impressively underpins the potential of this development. The evoBOT can work as a fellow colleague in a wide range of applications,” Professor Michael ten Hompel, Managing Director of Fraunhofer IML, emphasised.

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The dynamically stable transport robot developed by Fraunhofer IML is particularly characterised by its arms and the adaptive load pickup made possible by them. It can take on a wide range of tasks such as handling hazardous goods, transporting parcels for longer recurring distances, relieving employees during lifting and overhead work, procuring materials or even providing support during the loading and unloading of aircraft. Despite its load capacity, the evoBOT is exceptionally agile on its two wheels. It can reach a maximum speed of up to 60 km/h and transport a load of up to 100 kg. It can operate either alone or with others. Thanks to its good manoeuvrability, the evoBOT can be operated in various areas both indoors and outdoors. Its low carbon footprint also contributes to its diverse use.

“Against the backdrop of rising airfreight figures and the challenges of recruiting employees, we are very pleased to be able to take a look into the future with Fraunhofer IML. Into the very near future at that,”  Claudia Weidenbusch, Managing Director of Cargogate Munich Airport GmbH, added.