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AMSTERDAM: Schiphol airport is buying two TaxiBots this year, a semi-robotic hybrid towing vehicle designed for towing airplanes from a boarding gate to a takeoff runway without the use of jet engine power.

Supplied by Smart Aviation Systems, the dispatch vehicle can reduce airline engine fuel consumption and resultant CO2 emissions 85 percent, cut noise pollution 60 percent, and enable aircraft to avoid foreign object debris (FOD) by 50 percent.

Results from an earlier trial at Schiphol saw a 50 percent reduction in fuel consumption and CO2, nitrogen and ultrafine particle emissions during taxiing to and from the airport's five main runways, and up to 65 percent percent to the Polderbaan – a sixth runway some five kilometres and 15 minutes taxiing time from the passenger terminal.

Together with Air Traffic Control the Netherlands, KLM, Transavia, Corendon Dutch Airlines and ground handlers dnata and KLM Ground Services, the airport has now developed a master plan to ensure Taxibot taxiing will become a standard procedure at Schiphol.

The project is part of the EU-funded ALBATROSS project – aimed at developing and demonstrating more sustainable flight operations gate-to-gate in order to save fuel and emissions for each stage of a flight.

“2022 is a crucial year for sustainability in the aviation sector,” commented Royal Schiphol Group CEO Dick Benschop. “We are accelerating measures to reduce emissions and improve local air quality. That's important for the climate, our employees and local residents. We're Europeans first and one of the few airports worldwide working on implementing sustainable taxiing on a large scale.”

Schiphol's next step will be a Taxibot trial to and from the Polderbaan that will also include ground handlers Swissport, Viggo and airline group TUI.

NAPLES: The Grimaldi Group has discovered a solution to the growing problem of discharging microplastics into the ocean by installing patented technology to collect the particles from shipboard exhaust cleaning or ‘scrubber’ systems.

In January 2020 the International Maritime Organization (IMO) reduced the maximum allowable sulfur content in shipping fuel from 3.5 percent to 0.5 percent except for ships that use scrubbers.

Open-loop systems, such as operated by Grimaldi, suck in large quantities of seawater, spray it into a ship’s exhaust and then discharge it back overboard.

Now, before returning the contaminated water to the ocean, Grimaldi’s new process filters it to capture microplastics.

“The idea for this innovative technology originated from recognising that open-loop exhaust gas cleaning systems can draw seawater for exhaust scrubbing and simultaneously collect microplastic present in the oceans as part of their normal operation,” commented Grimaldi Group managing director Emanuele Grimaldi.

The shipping line has completed a pilot test of the system between Civitavecchia and Barcelona - collecting 64,680 plastic particles during a one-way sailing.

Based on the idea of turning its ships into ocean "vacuum cleaners” by collecting and removing contaminates during normal operations, Grimaldi has now granted Wärtsilä non-exclusive rights to market the new filter and will donate the licensing fee to charity.

“Microplastics are a pressing environmental challenge and we’re proud to work together with Grimaldi to tackle cleaning up the oceans,” commented Wärtsilä Marine Systems president Tamara de Gruyter. “Even more importantly, the ability to capture microplastics shows how scrubbers are a platform for solving a wide range of sustainability challenges – and now even ones that are beyond the stack."

BONN: The Deutsche Post DHL Group has sold its Greenplan route optimisation software business via a buy-out by its management team CEO Clemens Beckmann and managing director Florian Merget.

Greenplan uses an algorithm developed by DHL in cooperation with the University of Bonn Mathematical Institute for last mile, road freight and field service management.

DHL says software features such as predicted traffic density, the optimal tour start, or overlapping districts to respect drivers’ experiences, have made it a valuable tool for eco-conscious customers’ route planning.

Beckmann said his company is making “a big impact in fighting climate change” while enabling a reduction in transport industry costs.

“With the management buyout the team will now accelerate the growth of [an] unique route planning solution provider,” commented DHL CCO Katja Busch. “[It] helps forwarders and customers with large fleets to optimize the utilization of their vehicles, to improve route planning, and ultimately reduce CO2 emissions by driving fewer kilometers.”

Last year Greenplan won the US$100,000 Amazon Last Mile Routing Research Challenge in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Transportation & Logistics.

Stephan Held of the Hausdorff Center for Mathematics and a member of the Greenplan development team at the University of Bonn commented: "The hype around machine learning means that nowadays one almost has to justify not using these methods in discrete optimization. For me, a key motivation was to demonstrate the strengths of optimization algorithms, especially in a machine learning competition, which is based on a combinatorial optimization problem."

Aimed at optimized last-mile package delivery planning, a total of 220 teams from 22 countries took part in the Amazon competition and 45 made it to the final round.

While remaining a long-term Greenplan customer, DHL says it does not consider the commercial scale-up of software start-ups to be a core activity.

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