ZPMC builds automated straddle carrier

ZPMC has developed what it claims is the first AI unmanned straddle carrier in the world.

Having set up a joint R&D programme with AI startup westwell lab, ZPMC developed the carrier in a bid to free up terminal staff for other tasks and enhance the horizontal transportation efficiency of terminals by more than 50%.

ZPMC stated the accuracy rate of autonomous operation of the new type of straddle carrier reaches nearly 100%.

Low usage

ZPMC stressed that while more than half of ‘overseas’ container terminals are using straddle carriers for horizontal transportation, less than 5% of straddle carriers are automated ones. The main reason for this is that existing automated straddle carriers work on magnetic nails or base stations, the company said. The cost of the peripheral equipment is very high, but the actual operation efficiency is quite low.

Relying on AI technology, ZPMC’s straddle carrier can undertake unmanned driving and autonomous navigation without pre-embedded magnetic nails.

While moving, it can automatically avoid obstacles, slow down, brake, by pass and make other smart decisions in case of emergency situations. At the same time, it can autonomously plan an optimal route for horizontal transportation of containers, making it useful for decision-making in a closed scenario like a terminal.

ZPMC said there are more than 4,000 straddle carriers operating globally and it is estimated that the automation rate of straddle carriers will be up to 20% in the future.


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