Suttirat, 45, has been working as the assistant operations manager of Hutchison Ports Thailand for the autonomous heavy truck project since September 2020. The project aims to give full play to automation, including autonomous driving vehicles, to achieve eco-efficiency and safety in the port's operations.
"Q-Trucks are smart trucks with no drivers required, which operate with AI, sensors, and GPS. Since they arrived two years ago, they have been integrated with the existing conventional fleet of trucks to transport containers between the quay and the yard," said Suttirat.
With safety training, drivers of more than 30,000 vehicles entering terminal D were soon able to get acquainted with the trucks.
"Most drivers understand that the autonomous trucks can instantaneously 'see' everything in its vicinity, and make an emergency stop when faced with unavoidable obstacles," said Suttirat, whose team is providing safety training.
The Q-Trucks are built by Shanghai Westwell Information and Technology Company Ltd., a Chinese company specializing in AI development for commercial and industrial settings.
Equipped with advanced AI machine-learning technology and a wireless charging system, the trucks are able to operate non-stop for more than 24 hours or can travel as far as 140 kilometers.
In the past 25 months, the Q-Trucks fleet has been deployed for daily operations and has successfully transported more than 150,000 containers, according to Hutchison Ports Thailand, the operator of terminal D.
"(With) the autonomous Q-Trucks along with our other already and soon-to-be-implemented innovations, we are rapidly approaching our goal of becoming the nation's first fully-developed 'smart port," said Stephen Ashworth, managing director for Thailand & Southeast Asia of Hutchison Ports Thailand.
"We will take a further look at the development of autonomous truck technology at terminal D and explore how it will benefit the group's network of ports around the world and future plans," Ashworth told Xinhua.
Thailand is transforming Laem Chabang port into a regional hub, improving safety and efficiency of terminal, while lowering costs and delivering greener solutions, according to the port authority.
The plan is in line with Westwell's aspiration to promote automation.
"Thailand is our first overseas market in terms of commercial autonomous driving," said Tan Limin, founder & ceo of Westwell.
"Working in the port helps us understand potential challenges in the yard, we can leverage our experience in autonomous driving applications in China and tailor solutions to local conditions," Tan said.