'Cargo handling by Automated Next generation Transportation Systems for ports and terminals' aims to create smart Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and Highly Automated Trucks (HATs) that can co-operate in shared workspaces for efficient and safe freight transportation in main ports and freight terminals.
The project builds on an active dialogue with customers, workforce and authorities to maximise acceptance and exploitation of the project results.
The specific objectives are:
- Increase performance and throughput of freight transportation in main ports and freight terminals and maintain a high level of safety
- Develop an automated shared work yard for intelligent AGVs and highly automated trucks
- Develop and demonstrate planning, decision, control and safety strategies for automated vehicles
- Develop and demonstrate an environmental perception system and a grid-independent positioning system
The following questions will be guiding the project's research:
- Which combination of positioning techniques and sensors allow for reliable and accurate positioning in view of the proposed applications?
- How can reliable environmental perception be achieved, i.e. moving and stationary object detection, drivable path detection, docking point detection, absolute and relative object positioning?
- How to set-up and integrate a vehicle control system, including high-level site planning, path planning, interaction planning and feedback control?
- How can functional safety of automated vehicles be achieved?
Cutting-edge transportation system technology to better automate cargo handling at ports
The handling of freight needs to become much more effective, irrespective of the size of container flows. An EU initiative has developed an innovative solution to boost automation levels at container terminals.
Existing harbour and inland container terminals are presently limited by non-negligible, manually driven manoeuvres. Despite progress in autonomous vehicles, the benefits have not been so widespread in container handling. Moreover, the implemented automatised systems have needed substantial investment to equip terminal grounds with a grid of transponders that allow full control of optimised automated guided vehicles (AGVs). This large economic investment is preventing smaller terminals from adopting similar solutions.
To address these issues, the EU-funded http://www.cargo-ants.eu/ (CARGO-ANTS) (Cargo handling by automated next generation transportation systems for ports and terminals) project set out to introduce automated next-generation transportation systems (ANTs).
Specifically, project partners developed smart AGVs and automated trucks equipped with sensors that can cooperate in shared workspaces for efficient and safe freight transportation from and to cargo ships at main ports and freight terminals. These innovative ANTs are mainly designed for terminals that deal with large volumes of container traffic, but can be adapted to smaller terminals as well. They will reduce terminal congestion by increasing container throughput, widen the flexibility achievable on grid-independent infrastructure and significantly lower investment requirements.
Researchers developed an automated, shared work yard for intelligent AGVs and automated trucks. Then, they created and demonstrated planning, decision, control and safety strategies for these vehicles.
Lastly, the CARGO-ANTS team built and validated a robust grid-independent positioning system and an environmental perception system that oversees operational safety.
In addition to port and terminal operators, CARGO-ANTS developments can serve the needs of other players in the logistics chain beyond container handling. These include warehouses and factories that have to move goods from one location to another on site, airports that are responsible for luggage transport, and the automotive industry that is working on future concepts for lots in open parking places.