(Yicai Global) Jan. 24 -- An autonomous container truck has taken its first drive in Zhuhai Port in southern China, state-backed online news outlet The Paper reported.
Westwell Lab, a Shanghai-based artificial intelligence firm, developed the self-driving vehicle, which completed handling and transportation tasks at the port yesterday.
"It is the first one of its kind in Zhuhai Port, and the company plans to help Zhuhai Port build an unmanned container truck team to improve the operational capability and efficiency of the whole port," Westwell Chief Executive Tan Limin said.
The truck can detect surrounding containers, machines, equipment and lighthouses. It can drive to designated positions for gantry crane operations. It can independently control deceleration, braking and passing in unexpected situations. The vehicle can find an optimal route for meeting transportation demands in the enclosed port area.
The environment of port areas is suitable for autonomous vehicles. The high cost of drivers makes unmanned container trucks appealing.
"This is actually a very straightforward math problem," said Hu Zhongwang, deputy director of Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industry Co.'s Shanghai Harbor Mechanical Engineering Research Center. "For the port, replacing truck drivers with UCTs can cut costs by at least 30 percent, and what's more, UCTs can continuously work."