VASCO is the French language mnemonic for "Supervised Automated Vehicle for Containers." The Fleet Management System is integrated into the AGV’s navigation, so no terminal infrastructure of any kind is required. This is claimed to be a world first
VASCO is all about providing container terminals with an automated container transporter that requires no special infrastructure. The VASCO AGV, or more properly the AIV ADV (Automated Intelligent Vehicle-Autonomous Driving VASCO), is controlled and operated entirely through a specially-developed Fleet Management System incorporating GPS, LIDAR and SLAM technologies, so no terminal infrastructure of any kind is required.
It is the product of a joint project of Gaussin, BA Systèmes, and specialist laboratories LS2N (University of Nantes) and CRIStAL (University of Lille). The four-year project (October 2015-June 2019) is backed by BPIFrance.
The new product was shown on Wednesday, 15th May at an event at the Delta 3 trimodal terminal at Dourges (Lille) in North Eastern France, hosted by the project partners and the facility’s operator, Lille Dourges Container Terminal.
Guests were able to see the AIV long travel at speeds of up to 35 kph, "crab" in the sense of moving simultaneously sideways and forwards or backwards using its bogie steering, and land a container in a docking station and take it out again.
The AIV ADV has electric drive through Gaussin’s modular lithium-ion battery pack (three banks to provide an installed power of 180 kW). The modularity allows Gaussin to propose different power bands and differnet types of lithium battery technology according to the operating environment, intensity of use, ambient conditions, charging speed required and other customer requirements.
In the AIV ADV, electric over hydraulic power is provided for the bogie steering and for the cylinders to lift the container in and out of the docking station. Of course, the AIV can also be provided as a "passive" AGV without a lifting mechanism. The maximum steering angle is ± 45deg.
The AIV in the LIFT AIV version demonstrated has a tare weight of just 17 tonnes and payload is 70 tonnes.
Apart from the bogie steering, which gives it a compact outside turning radius of 9.6m, the AIV ADV differs in a number of respects from the AGVs that Gaussin and ST Engineering will be supplying to PSA International in Singapore for a "greenfield" development (TUAS).
The most obvious is the reliance on the FMS, which is from BA Systèmes and the laboratories. The site (any brownfield or greenfield site) is LIDAR-mapped and the coordinates are integrated into 16-plane LIDAR primary navigation sensors with a range of 100m and ± 5cm of accuracy fitted at each corner. For placing containers in a docking station (buffer stillage) at the ASC interface, single-plane LIDAR sensors accurate to ± 1 cm are fitted at each end.
All travel speeds are controlled in real-time through the FMS, according to traffic conditions, potential obstacles and safety hazards. The FMS also monitors all machine positions, performance and status parameters, including battery condition and charge status. Lifting and steering are automatically adjusted according to the weight of the load. At the moment this feature is accurate to ± 3 tonnes.
Capacity of the FMS is said to be more than 100 vehicles.
Also on display, although not demonstrated, at Delta 3 was Gaussin’s APM Autonomous Prime Mover designed as an alternative to "spotter" tractors in DC/logistic centre applications. A heavy duty version of the APM, with a gvw of 75 tonnes and aimed at port tractor/trailer applications, will be launched by Gaussin at TOC Europe in June.