First autonomous driverless straddle truck launched
January 14 was informed that Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industry and West Well Technology jointly developed the world's first autonomous driving unmanned container straddle truck, in the terminal practical test phase, the operational accuracy rate of almost 100%. An international shipping major is negotiating a partnership with ZPMC, planning to bring this artificially intelligent port equipment to the European market. Some of China's container terminals are also expected to use the "Shanghai-made" unmanned straddle truck.
Low cost efficiency of existing straddle carriers
The straddle carrier is a loading and unloading machine that moves and stacks containers between the quay front and the yard, more than 10 meters high. The driver drives the straddle truck over the container, drops the spreader to grab the box, and then drives to the yard to release the box. According to Huang Qingfeng, president of ZPMC, more than 500 terminals around the world are using straddle carriers, and the percentage of automated straddle carriers is less than 5% because the current technology used in automated straddle carriers is magnetic spike guidance or base station guidance, and the cost of peripheral devices is high, while the operational efficiency is relatively low.
Last year, the leading harbor machine company got to know a Shanghai-based artificial intelligence company, Xii Technology. Since its founding in 2015, the R&D team of Westwell Technology has been nearly 50 people, about 80% of whom are returnees with masters or PhDs. They have applied their self-developed chips and algorithms to the port industry to achieve intelligent cargo handling, allowing some dock handlers to say goodbye to the windy and sunny environment and enter the office as white-collar workers.
What other aspects of the port industry can artificial intelligence be used for? After analyzing the user needs, Nishii Technology decided to develop driverless technology for container trucks in the port area. When ZPMC management learned of this development, they considered it an effective technical solution for automated straddle carriers. "The port industry is relatively closed, but we must have an open mind and actively cooperate with high-tech companies."
Centimeter-level accuracy can be achieved by grabbing boxes
The two Shanghai-based companies officially partnered last August. ZPMC is responsible for the hardware design of the single vehicle and the development of the multi-device control system; Xii Technology provides the artificial intelligence solution for the single vehicle and the multi-vehicle dispatching system. The latter has developed a set of machine learning algorithms and combined them with hardware such as chips to form the "brain" of the unmanned trans-shipment vehicle. The "eyes" are the cameras, millimeter wave radar and other sensors. With "brain" and "eyes", unmanned trans-shipment vehicle can simulate the operation of human behavior, independent driving in the port area, obstacle avoidance, but also independent detection of containers, and complete the centimeter-level accuracy of the capture box, across the box and put box.
The introduction of autonomous unmanned straddle carriers was followed by a live test at a terminal. The results show that it has various autonomous operating capabilities and is much more standardized and faster than manual operation.
What will be the benefits of the unmanned trans-shipment vehicles when they come into operation? Analysis by Tam Lai Min, CEO of Westwell Technologies: one is cost savings. The labor cost of a medium-sized domestic terminal for a straddle truck or collector truck driver is more than 50 million yuan per year, and the labor cost in Europe and the United States is even higher. The second is efficiency. The unmanned straddle carrier is capable of 24-hour operation and is expected to increase the terminal's horizontal transport efficiency by more than 50%. Third, it is safer. No accidents resulting in driver injury or death will occur.
Huang Qingfeng predicts that in the near future, the global automation rate of trans-shipment vehicles will reach at least 20%. As a result, major global manufacturers of straddle carriers are developing automated equipment, and ZPMC has gained a head start in this international competition by introducing artificial intelligence technology.
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