As part of the National Transition Board Practice Research Raak/SIA program, the INTRALOG (intelligent Truck Application in Logistics) project investigated the practical application of zero emission Automatic Guided Trucks (AGTs) for the transport of containers in the Harbour Industrial Cluster (HIC) in the port of Rotterdam. The introduction of zero emission autonomous trucks is facing a couple of barriers and challenges which are discussed in this paper.
Autonomous driving is still under development and the application of batteries in heavy trucking is not yet feasible, because of their relatively low energy density versus fossil fuels. Carrying heavy batteries reduces the payload and therefore complicates the financial feasibility of electric propulsion with batteries. Analysis of the container flows at the port area of Rotterdam has shown a big difference based on distance, closed track or open road, type of energy, and energy distribution. In terms of organization, five different situations can be distinguished: (i) Central Exchange Route (CER), (ii)Inter-terminal, (iii) DCs in HIC, (iv) (intermodal) inland terminals in the Netherlands and (v) the long-distance transport. The CER proves to be an ideal solution to start the introduction of zero emission AGTs. In terms of innovative technology all lights for actual implementation have been switched into green. However, the major challenge now emerging at the Port of Rotterdam is how to mobilize all key stakeholders in such a way that the estimated benefits outweigh estimated costs and really leads to the implementation of this new autonomous and zero emission system in practice.