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This article describes the development and implementation of an autonomous straddle carrier (AutoStrad) for the movement of shipping containers in a port environment. In this article, we describe the vehicle and the control, navigation, safety, and pilot functions, which enable autonomous operation. The description of the implementation of the complete system also addresses issues of operational safety, scheduling, and planning of operations, interfaces to quay-side cranes, and road-side hauler vehicles. The complete production system, consisting of 18 autonomous straddle carriers, has been in continuous operation for the past two years at the Port of Brisbane, Australia. This article concludes by distilling some of the key technical and commercial lessons learned in moving from a concept through prototype to fully operational system.
Date of Publication: Sept. 2007