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A unique autonomous port truck is being tested at the HHLA TK Estonia terminal

A unique autonomous port truck is being tested at the HHLA TK Estonia terminal

HHLA TK Estonia and Fernride, a German developer of autonomous trucks, are testing a unique autonomous port truck in the Muuga container terminal. It has no equivalents in the world, and if the tests are successful, the Muuga project can set a completely new direction in organisation of port operations.

“Our test project for Fernride’s remotely controlled port truck was launched at the beginning of the year. We completed the first stage this summer, and it was a great success, which is why together with Fernride we moved to the second stage of testing. In November an autonomously moving heavy truck will be added to our daily port operations in addition to the remotely controlled truck,” said Riia Sillave, chairman of the board of HHLA TK Estonia.

According to Riia Sillave, the Muuga container terminal is an ideal location to test innovative technology in real port conditions, considering the compactness of the port area on the one hand, and substantial cargo volumes on the other.

“Figuratively speaking, our terminal is a real-life test site, where Fernride’s autonomous port trucks are fully integrated into our regular port work, transporting containers from the terminal to the ship and the other way around side by side with normal, human-driven trucks,” described Sillave. “The whole process is being constantly analysed to further improve movement and add more operations.”

Equipped with sensors and cameras, Fernride’s autonomous port truck is constantly monitored via a video communication channel by a remote teleoperator who can take over control of the machine if necessary.

“In the final phase of the test project, the operator will monitor work of up to two trucks at the same time. In the long term, if the level of autonomy achieved is high enough, one operator can be responsible for up to 10 trucks, which means many times higher efficiency, not to mention increased traffic safety, which is a very significant matter considering the larger container terminals of our parent group HHLA. This is also the reason why HHLA group’s innovation development company also acquired a stake in the Fernride company,” said the manager of HHLA TK Estonia.

According to Riia Sillave, if the pilot project is successful, the HHLA TK Estonia terminal can become a leader setting a new direction for both larger and smaller terminals around the world, and it would complement Estonia’s image as an innovative country oriented towards digital solutions.

HHLA TK Estonia is a part of the leading European logistics group Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) that operates container terminals in Hamburg, Odessa, Trieste and Muuga, as well as runs logistics interconnections and intermodal centres in many regions of Central and Eastern Europe. In 2023, Enterprise Estonia nominated HHLA TK Estonia among TOP3 in the Best Foreign Investor category at the annual Entrepreneurship Award competition.

Source: HHLA Estonia