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Autonomous tractors arrive at the port of Felixstowe (UK).

Autonomous tractors arrive at the port of Felixstowe (UK).

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By: Pascal Stich, Christophe Pared
Reading: 2 minutes

The port of Felixstowe, not far from Ipswich in the east of England, is one of Europe's largest terminals. It gradually welcomes around a hundred fleet tractors, no trucker can drive…

Deep water. The Port of Felixstowe is Britain's largest and busiest container port, and one of the largest in Europe. It accommodates around 2,000 ships each year, including the largest container ships afloat today. The port offers the deepest seawater of any European port.

Real world testing. Felixstowe Marine Terminal is a member of the Hutchison Ports Network. It recently signed an agreement with Westwell, a Shanghai-based Chinese manufacturer of these vehicles, to purchase 100 Q-Truck autonomous tractors. The order follows a call for tenders and a detailed testing process.

Hutchison Ports first introduced Westwell Q-Trucks in 2020 at Terminal D of the Thai port of Laem Chabang. Fifteen of these tractors operate in a mixed mode, unseparated from other traffic in the area. They have processed more than 334,000 movements since their arrival.

Deployment in Europe.Following the positive introduction of autonomous trucks at our terminal in Thailand and extensive and successful testing in Felixstowe, we are rolling out the system in the UK. The new trucks will increase the efficiency and operational sustainability of our container handling operations and contribute significantly to the port's decarbonisation efforts. », Explain Clemens Cheng, General Manager of the Port of Felixstowe and Managing Director of the Port of Hutchison.

These autonomous tractors No driver required. There is no driving position in their embryonic cabin as it is powered by their on-board computer in conjunction with a centralized control station.

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Analysis. The case isn't really new, although this time it's not about mining dumpers, but about (relatively) standard road tractors. Of course, they're not intended for driving on open roads, but all the same, we can see it as the next step towards widespread autonomous driving.


This article comes from France Routes n°502 (January 2024), p. 60. You can buy it online store By clicking this link.

Subscriber Bonus: Access the magazine with the France Roots e-reader by clicking this link.