Hutchison Ports Port of Felixstowe has introduced autonomous terminal tractor units (ATs) into mixed traffic container terminal operations.
The port is believed to be the first in Europe to introduce such equipment.
Manufacturer Westwell has supplied the first two battery-powered trucks to enter service at the UK’s largest container port – which is just exiting months of labour action after dockworkers struck a pay deal with Hutchison Ports.
“These new autonomous trucks represent a significant technological step forward for the Port of Felixstowe,” said Clemence Cheng, Chief Executive Officer at the Port of Felixstowe.
“The tools underpinning port operations have evolved continuously, and we already have a range of very advanced systems and equipment in place, but this is the first time we will have wholly driverless vehicles.”
The ATs units have built-in safety features which are slated to ensure effective and safe operations at container terminals at the Port of Felixstowe.
The trucks use a digital map loaded to a fleet management system that controls the navigation around the port. The AT then combines that map with its on-board GPS navigation to track its real-time position.
“The ATs use LiDAR – a light sensing technology that creates a 3D map of an AT’s surroundings using a laser and receiver, which, when combined with its on-board 360-degree cameras, provide real-time, all-round ‘vision’,” said Project Director, and Hutchison Ports UK Chief Information Officer, Karen Poulter.
“This enables it to ‘see’ everything instantaneously in its vicinity to allow safe and accurate navigation.
“With the support of Extreme Precise Position (EPP) system, it can achieve positioning accuracy of 2 centimetres and a steering angle accuracy of 0.5 degrees.”
The trucks will be initially used to transport containers between Trinity and North Rail terminals at the port.
In September, PTI sat down with Kuo Ralph Ren, Senior Project Manager, Qolomo Autonomous Driving at Westwell.