APM Terminals invests in self-driving container robots at The Port of Aarhus
Many homes are now equipped with a robot vacuum cleaner. They roam around a bit and collect dust from the floor.
At APM Terminals in Aarhus, they have also invested in robots. But they are on a slightly different scale and complexity. They are 17 meters tall and equipped with lidar sensors, laser scanners, HD cameras, and GPS systems. And they move containers instead of dust.
"We are very proud to be selected to test this generation of Blue Bots, which is based on completely new and innovative technology. They operate, among other things, on precision GPS. We have been involved in their development and provided specifications," says Mikael Gutman, Managing Director of APM Terminals Nordics.
The robots, called Blue Bots, are self-driving straddle carriers, and they move around the container terminal at The Port of Aarhus.
Since the beginning of 2021, a Blut Bot has been operating in a restricted area, but now APM Terminals feels confident in releasing more of the self-driving container movers in the restricted area. And the confidence is not unfounded.
"They are based on the experience we have gained with the first Blue Bot, which has traveled 800 kilometers and completed 6,000 lifts without any safety incidents. Now we are expanding the area they operate in, covering 65,000 out of the container terminal's total area of 700,000 square meters," says Søren Wildau Nielsen, Deployment Lead on the project, APM Terminals.
The robots never operate in areas where there are people. If a person enters their area, all Blue Bots immediately stop.
The robots travel at a speed of up to 24 kilometers per hour and can handle nine lifts per hour. And even though it is a decent working speed, it is actually slower than when humans are behind the wheel.
"What the robots can deliver is reliability, and they can operate 24/7, even at times when it is less desirable for humans to work. Safety is particularly important to us in this context," says Søren Wildau Nielsen.
Blue Bots are designed to eventually run solely on electricity.
APM Terminals has now invested in a total of three self-driving straddle carriers to operate at The Port of Aarhus, and the pilot project will be evaluated at the end of 2023. And perhaps more of these insect-like vehicles will be driverless in the future.