Development of an interactive robot container terminal model to make infrastructures of sustainable intermodal goods transport come alive and comprehensible

The aim of RoboConT Terminal project was the development of a computer-operated robot-robot-model describing an intermodal container terminal. The term "intermodal transport" stands for a transport process that includes at least two different transportation modes (rail, road, inland waterway). The current cooperation project especially dealed with the optimization of the rail-rail transhipment of loading units (containers, swap bodies, semi trailers). By combining the robot model with a simulation tool (developed by the BOKU university, see also it was possible to analyze, evaluate and illustrate different optimization approaches. The innovative component of this project was the transfer of computer based simulation results into a physical model. The intended result of the project was a fully operative model, consisting of software and hardware, which includes the following tasks and functionalities:

  1. Software (BOKU, HTL Spengergasse, h2 projekt.beratung):
    a. Graphical visualisation of terminal layouts.
    b. Implementation of a problem based game – the game might also be used as starting point for the robot crane.
    c. Simulation of the terminal by using input data of the simulation tool.
    d. Hardware control (robot crane) – interface: cooperation of HTL Spengergasse and HTL Bregenz.
    e. Testing of the hardware control programming: cooperation of HTL Spengergasse and HTL Bregenz.

  2. Hardware (HTL Bregenz, Hans Künz GmbH, h2 projekt.beratung):
    a. Mechanical and technical: development of two fully operative robot cranes allowing for movement at the x-, y-, and z-axis.
    b. Container identification: the robot crane is intended to recognize containers autonomously (application of RFID).
    c. Crane control – Interface between software and hardware: cooperation of HTL Spengergasse and HTL Bregenz.

  3. Interaction of software und hardware („game modes“):
    a. Acceptance of jobs from the software (autoplay).
    b. Direct hardware control (definition of the interface) by keyboard.

It was planned to finish the project within two years. At the end of the second year users should be able to compare directly their performance with the simulation results and at the same time the corresponding physical movements can be tracked in the terminal model.

This project has been completed.