Multi-agent planning and coordination for automated aircraft ground handling

Szu Tung Chen, Gülçin Ermiş*, Alexei Sharpanskykh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Inspired by the vision of fully autonomous airside operations at Schiphol airport, this study aims to contribute to the short-term goal of automated aircraft ground handling. In this research, we design and evaluate a multi-agent system for planning of automated ground handling. There are two main components in the system: task allocation optimization and multi-agent path planning. To allocate tasks to ground support equipment (GSE) vehicles, an auction mechanism inspired by temporal sequential single item (TeSSI) auction is proposed. Ground handling tasks scheduling for GSE vehicles is modeled as several single-vehicle pickup and delivery optimization problems (SPDP), and the values of the objective functions are used to generate bids for GSE vehicle agents in the auction. Prioritized safe interval path planning for large agents (LA-SIPP) is used to plan collision-free paths for GSE vehicle agents in the model to execute tasks. The aim is to increase the success rates of allocating tasks and finding collision free paths without causing flight delays, given the limited resources such as a small number of available GSE vehicles, time windows constraints and conflicting interests of different agents. Due to the results, even for the instances with frequent flights and the most limited resources, the success rates of allocation and path planning were higher than 81% and 98%, respectively. Furthermore, periodic task allocation and path planning of the ground handling tasks for flights in three aircraft stands during a planning time window of the day, as well as replanning in case of disruptions were performed in a short CPU time. There is a lack of research dealing with the complete process of ground handling, since existing studies concerning the automation of ground handling operations involve fleet assignment or task scheduling models without an integration of detailed path planning. Our main contribution is to present a framework that combines task allocation and path planning for automation of ground handling operations and provides solutions using a multi-agent perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104480
JournalRobotics and Autonomous Systems
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Automated aircraft ground handling
  • Multi-agent path planning
  • Task allocation
  • Vehicle routing with pick up and deliveries


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