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ANT

A System for Future Agile Container Handling

  • The ANT concept is a system of fully autonomous and electrical cargo handling robots.

  • Moving anticipating gantries provide streamlined routes for the robots.

  • The unit can pick up containers at the docked ship an move them to the storage area.

  • The robots can connect nearby terminals and warehouses.

  • The core unit of the ANT can be refigured and work a ground transport vehicle.

What it does

The ANT concept is a system of fully autonomous and electrical cargo handling robots. The units can pick up containers directly from the docked ship and move them to the designated spot in the storage area or bring them directly to nearby warehouses.


Your inspiration

The increasing size of container ships and the demand for a higher throughput and handling of containers, creates a bottleneck in our contemporary harbours. Most of the existing harbours and their layouts are simply not designed for handling these super ships. Problems arise within the harbour but also around the ports and in the surround urban areas due to traffic overload between terminals and close by warehouses. The aim for this project was to create an end-to-end product system solution. To decrease the inefficient number of container-moves and to conceptualize a solution to handle the growing amount of cargo in the future.


How it works

What if we would rethink how our harbours work today? The ANT concept is a system of fully autonomous and electrical cargo handling robots that work together through swarm robotics. Instead of using different machines to relocate the cargo step-by-step, the ANT can pick up containers directly from the docked ship and move them to the designated destination for the specific container. Anticipating gantries are in a constant flow and provide streamlined routes for each ANT. Comparable with the swarm intelligence of ants in the nature, this cognitive system works together to achieve a new and more efficient loading and unloading process. The ANTs can connect to nearby terminals and warehouses, while at the same time eliminating the truck traffic on the ground and in the public streets. Thanks to a modular and symmetrical design, the core unit of the ANT can in theory be refigured and work a ground transport vehicle.


Design process

A people centred approach was utilized to experience and explore the workday activities and behaviours of the different user groups working at the harbour. Onsite observations at the harbour of Hamburg, user interviews, factory tours and testing existing transport solutions up close, provided valuable insights in order to identify relevant design opportunities. This provided an overview of the complex process and the fleet of different vehicles and solutions that are used today. “The workflow is unpredictable because the vessels are getting too big. That is very stressful for the harbour and the environment. It was much easier back in the days.” Michél Ecks, a terminal operator explained. The intension with the product design was to create a form that had a character that expressed being reliable, agile and responsive. An effort was also done to make the front parts of the ANT to semantically expressing the intelligence and individual personality of each unit.


How it is different

Instead of using different types of equipment like cranes, container tractors, reach stackers, container handlers and trucks and transfer the cargo from to another, the ANTs can pick up containers directly from the docked ship and transport these all the way to the targeted place in the storage area or to the waiting truck that will take the container to its final destination. Collectively, the ANTs accelerate the logistic process within and around the harbour in a faster and more seamless and sustainable way. The ANTs can connect to nearby terminals and warehouses, while at the same time eliminating the truck traffic on the ground and in the public streets.


Future plans

The project would need the support of a partner company to implement this concept in future harbour scenarios.


Awards

Core77 Design Awards 2019 - Student Winner - Commercial Equipment Core77 Design Awards 2019 - Student Winner - Transportation


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