Remote Operation Partnership

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Remote Operation Partnership

Supporting The Roadmap To Autonomous Operation

PUBLISHED: 25-08-2019
MEDIATYPE: Articles
TAGS: Remote Operation, Terminal Tractors, Teleoperation, Phantom Auto

Remote Operation Partnership

Remote operation can supplement all types of yard automation. Therefore Terberg is partnering with an expert in the field, Phantom Auto, to implement this technology in the AutoTUGTM.

The technology offers clear advantages: vehicle managers can control vehicles at several sites from the comfort of their office environment and remote operation can be used in locations where manned operation is uncomfortable or dangerous.

In addition, remote operation can be useful in combination with autonomous functions. Issues that cannot be handled by the automation systems can be resolved remotely, without on-site intervention. Terminal operators can develop experience of automated yard operations more quickly. New situations can be recognized and resolved by updating the autonomous system. This will reduce the need for intervention by a teleoperator.

Tristan Smis, Manager Tractor Automation at Terberg comments about recent developments: "At the Benschop plant we have been working on automated and autonomous tractors for quite some years now. This means we are now prepared for the future and we can meet the growing demand for various forms of automation. Our customers are not only looking to save costs, quite often they simply cannot find the right tractor drivers for their operations. Automatically Guided Vehicles (AGVs) have been available for around 30 years, mostly for container handling in controlled environments. However, Terberg tractors are often used in complex environments where mixed traffic and difficult manoeuvres make automation more difficult. In these settings remote operation can be an attractive solution.

To add this feature to the Terberg AutoTUGTM we are now working with Phantom Auto, who provides the teleoperation kit and remote operator station. The kit includes a set of cameras and 4G modems for the data links. These links enable the operator at the remote station to see what is happening and to send instructions to the tractor, as long as the data link is fast enough the distance between the tractor and the remote operator station is unlimited. In one demonstration project the driver and the tractor were thousands of kilometres apart. If the data link is interrupted or slows down the AutoTUG will automatically brake and come to a halt."

Remote operation provides a number of options. It gives the driver a completely different work environment, which may be attractive to a new generation of drivers. It also makes it possible for one driver to handle several vehicles. This is attractive for customers with multiple sites with intermittent operations. In future it will be possible to combine autonomous operation, for straightforward routes, and remote operation, for more difficult manoeuvres.

Some customers are currently hesitant to use autonomous or automated vehicles because they worry that when vehicles get too close to each other they might both stop and refuse to move (deadlock). Remote operation makes it possible for an operator to resolve this deadlock without physically having to go to the tractors. As a result, automation becomes more attractive.

Some Terberg vehicles have to drive on public roads. Under current regulations this means there has to be a driver in the vehicle - exactly what autonomous operation aims to avoid. Several countries have introduced legislation to enable experiments on public roads, as long as the vehicles are remotely monitored. Our new teleoperation kit provides that function.

For more information about AutoTUGTM, remote operations and other new developments at Terberg please contact Tristan Smis, Project Manager Tractor Automation, tel. +31 (0) 348 45 92 11, T.Smis@terbergbenschop.nl.

Clarification:
- Automated vehicle: only follows instructions (and stops automatically if there is an obstacle).
- Autonomous vehicle: can take decisions about the best way to implement instructions (and stops automatically if there is an obstacle).