Welcoming a New Transportation Concept



Prof. Rochdi Merzouki, InTraDE Project Manager, Lille, France


The use of intelligent autonomous vehicles (IAV) is a relatively new concept for the container transport system. The concept is currently being examined on a large scale within the framework of the European project InTraDE (Intelligent Transportation in Dynamic Environment), co-funded by the INTERREG IV-B North West Europe (NWE) programme. The project, which began back in 2009 with a completion date slated for 2015, aims to contribute to the socio-economic development of port located in NWE. Maritime trade, particularly container transport, is continuously growing. Unfortunately not all small and mediumsize ports from NWE have sufficient operational tools to follow the rhythm of this trade increase. With static limitations, the internal traffic can become increasingly saturated due to the size of the operation area. In addition, investing in new port infrastructure and expansion can create significant costs for port authorities. For this reason, InTraDE provides a technological platform to assist with the development of port operations; respecting the environment, whilst allowing for the reduction of socio-economic dispersion in the NWE region. Thus, the main objective of InTraDE is to provide innovative technology development of IAVs, in order to improve traffic management and space optimisation within terminals of all sizes. The automation of ports is not a new technological challenge. It was  introduced in the 1990s through theconcept of the automated guided vehicles (AGVs), which were deployed in Rotterdam, Hamburg and Düsseldorf. This technology is and remains efficient for these particular ports. However, this success has not been repeated in other ports in the region, as they have struggled to adapt to the requirements of AGV technology. AGVs require necessary investment in infrastructure in terms of sensor-based guided lines, ground cover etc. The AGV concept can be transferred to a road-train system that follows guided static lines however, the system is not really flexible and its integration in different port environments is extremely limited. In addition, the considerable weight of AGVs, coupled with its thermal and single-based engine propulsion, results in high emissions during operation. Furthermore, if the equipment is faulty or in stop mode, mobility issues associated with the AGV design can often result in operational delays and disrupt the flow of cargo.

Looking at the IAV concept

The IAV concept is a …

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