Wednesday, April 29, 2020

First Autonomous Container Trucks Deployed in Thailand Commence Operational Trials

(We Told You the Robots Were Coming)
Shipping News Feature

THAILAND – Hutchison Ports Thailand, which is the largest container terminal operator in Laem Chabang Port, has become the first cargo handler to acquire and test autonomous trucks at its Terminal D facility there. The six trucks are from Chinese outfit Qomolo, hence known as 'Q' trucks.

The six electric trucks arrived at Terminal D from Shanghai, China on 26 April, with the testing phase set to run for one year. During this period, the trucks will be integrated with the existing conventional fleet of trucks to transfer containers between the quay and the yard. The Q trucks have been billed formerly as China’s answer to Elon Musk’s Tesla projects.

Equipped with advanced AI machine-learning technology and a wireless charging system, the Q Truck can operate non-stop for more than 24 hours. The trucks utilise ‘LiDAR’ light detection and range technology, through which they can instantaneously and accurately detect and survey their surroundings in all directions, generating a precise, internal 3D map, enabling them to accurately analyse and avoid obstacles and collisions.

The operation of the trucks will be integrated into, and controlled by, Hutchison Ports Next Generation Terminal Management System ‘nGen’, which works in conjunction with other innovations, such as remote controlled-cranes, to plan transportation routes, manage operation time schedules and arrival patterns.

Hutchison says the introduction of this technology marks a huge step forward for the development of the nation’s ‘smart’ infrastructure along the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), with the autonomous, Qomolo trucks promising to improve efficiency and safety at its operations at Terminal D.

The investment will not only benefit Hutchison Ports Thailand’s customers and port users at Terminal D, but other stakeholders along the EEC, a key gateway to the greater Mekong region, with Mr Stephen Ashworth, Managing Director, Thailand & South East Asia of Hutchison Ports, adding:

“The autonomous Q-Trucks utilise the latest technology and innovations, and are part of our ongoing plan to transform Terminal D into the most technologically advanced and efficient container terminal in the region.

”The Q Truck continues to push the envelope for port innovation and along with our other already and soon-to-be implemented innovations, such as remote controlled crane-technology, online e-tracking services, gate automation and blockchain technology, we are rapidly approaching our goal of becoming the nation’s first fully-developed smart port.”

You can view a video illustrating the operation of the Q Trucks HERE.

Photo: Stephen Ashworth is clearly proud of his company's new toys.