Skip to main content
European Commission logo

Intelligent Shuttle Fleet Connecting A Split Container Storage Area For Intermodal Operation Improve

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Total project cost
€3 211 709
EU Contribution
€1 605 200
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Connected and automated transport (CAT)
Transport mode
Multimodal icon
Transport sectors
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

The ASAPP ONE project is funded by the European Commission under the 5th Framework Programme GROWTH, DG TREN and attached to the Key Action 'Land Transport and Marine Technologies'.

The high level of activity in ports, including complex organisational and logistical processes and movements, combined with lack of space, can often lead to chaotic and even dangerous scenes. The ASAPP project and the new complementary initiative ASAPP ONE, running until August 2003, aim to drastically reduce loading and unloading times of ships in ports as well as the evacuation of containers from ports to inland transportation networks.

Partners have established the definition of a dedicated link wherein hinterland depots would receive freight from road or rail vehicles and then transfer it via an automated shuttle to seaport depots and then to ship loading berths, and vice versa.


The ASAPP ONE project is aimed specifically at tackling the challenging new configuration of the proposed shuttles and at creating an efficient system for getting the right containers to the right location at the right time.

This project proposes the solution to the growth impossibility of the second rank container terminal due to space and traffic constraints. The system is a dedicated rail track (new or existing) connecting the port yard to a peripheral inland depot, operated by automated shuttles and managed optimising the line exploitation driving the shuttles from the front end to the loading bays also.


The vehicle ASAPP One will run as autonomous shuttle or in a 'convoy mode' without any mechanical link between the shuttle train. The system will eliminate the road traffic problems in the urban areas surrounding the ports (> 2000 trucks/ day for a second rank port) in favour of the middle range railway transport.

The consortium is formed by container handling machinery industrial companies, engineering houses, research institutes and intermodal business users. A validation field test will be done.


The work program for ASAPP ONE consists of developing a transfer system with a new design of motorised wagon based on some ASAPP (automated shuttle for augmented port performances) solutions, but having innovative and enhanced performances, especially in on-board and general control systems, devoted to operation conditions and able to maximise the path use (the distance being 5 to 50 km) utilising existing or new rail tracks. The performance of the shuttle must be the following:

  • able to run as a single shuttle to the 'max allowable speed' (the maximum speed vs. the dynamic distance toward the preceding shuttle);
  • able to run in 'virtual convoy mode' with a new concept proximity control able to provide a 1.5 m gap without mechanical links;
  • able to join a convoy or move from it;
  • able to run on train rail tracks in addition to the ASAPP features (solid rubber wheels);
  • able to transport up to 6 TEUs (3x2 high).

The structure of the project and the project work follow the traditional procedure and starts with functional specification (logistic requirements and general architecture) followed by the development of each subsystem:

  • line management system (tested in performances with a virtual split terminal simulator);
  • shuttle 'improved version one' design, construction and set-up with twin wheels for flat surfaces and rail tracks;
  • shuttle onboard control system with shuttle-to-shuttle proximity adaptative control system;
  • local traffic control and field sensor system for front end and swap point control. It comes up after integration and final validation tests with concrete recommendations for the exploitation of the results.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission, Directorate-General for Research (DG Research)
Type of funding
Public (EU)


The ASAPP project, followed by the ASAPP ONE project that runs until August 2003, created the definition of a dedicated link between seaports and hinterland depots, running an automated shuttle. The ASAPP ONE project has facilitated a prototype by means of a consortium of industrial partners, SME, engineering firms, and research institutes selected to minimise the timescale of the research phase.

The participants have developed the concept of the dedicated link connecting a seaport with a hinterland depot into a practical prototype. The hinterland depot will accept freight from road vehicles and transfer it via the automated shuttle to the port where it is transferred to ship. The electrically powered, computer-controlled shuttles will run either individually, or in convoy mode. Each shuttle will transport up to six container units and will run either on a dedicated railway line or on a concrete pathway. The hinterland depots will eliminate upwards of 2000 trucks a day from the urban areas in the vicinity of major ports.


The solution will avoid congestion at the quayside and provide a fast and consistent throughput, improving the rate at which freight is currently transferred to the ship. Further increases in the rate of freight transfer will be affected by the use of improved container and lifting equipment. Investment costs at the quayside will be also be reduced and as a consequence of this and the reduced quayside space requirements, smaller ports will be in a position to accept freight. This will improve the overall flexibility of the transport arrangements and the additional sea and inland waterway routes will help to reduce road traffic.


The overall costs of transport will also be reduced and this will reduce the break-even costs of intermodal transport to the target of around 200 km.


The main project output are:

  • the establishment of one full-scale prototype shuttle to be used in connection with the actual ASAPP for the behaviour tests;
  • the sensor system, hardware and research;
  • the application program for the line management system and related research;
  • the split terminal virtual system (simulation) to validate the performances by means of case studies. The expected timing for exploitation of these results is three to five years after the end of the research contract.


Policy implications


- Creation of the definition of a dedicated link between seaports and hinterland depots, running an automated shuttle.

- The introduction of new information technology will provide a higher quality of service for customers of the freight industry in terms of tracking and tracing goods in transport.

- The new technology will also provide the facility for the provision of multi-modal ticketing which will reduce overheads and improve the reliability and quality of the service provided.


Lead Organisation
Cybernetix S.a. - Ingenierie Des Systemes Automatiques Et Robotiques
Rue René Razel 4, 91892 ORSAY, France
Partner Organisations
Sciro S.p.a.
Organisation website
EU Contribution
Suditalia Terminal Operator S.r.l.
V. Emerico Amari 8, 90133 PALERMO, Italy
EU Contribution
Noell Crane Systems Gmbh
Alfred-Nobel-Strasse 20, 97980 WUERZBURG, Germany
EU Contribution
Ikerlan - Technological Research Centre
Paseo J.M. Arizmendiarrieta 2, 20500 MONDRAGON, Spain
Organisation website
EU Contribution
Salerno Container Terminal Spa
Viale delle Querce 14, 84134 SALERNO, Italy
EU Contribution
Reggiane Cranes And Plants Spa
Via Vasco Agosti, 27, 42100 REGGIO EMILIA, Italy
Organisation website
EU Contribution
Sita Sa
Avenue Gabriel Peri, 63-65, 92600 ASNIERES-SUR-SEINE, France
EU Contribution


Contribute! Submit your project

Do you wish to submit a project or a programme? Head over to the Contribute page, login and follow the process!