INDUSTRY FOCUS Aerospace and Mariney

Middle East’s largest seaport upgrades its AITVs to full autonomous operation

Ground-breaking deployment of autonomous vehicle technology by the operator of the Jebel Ali container port in Dubai (pictured below right) demonstrates the performance of AI-based autonomous and robotic vehicle systems


lobal ports operator DP World has signed an agreement with DGWorld for the conversion of a fl eet of Autonomous Internal

Terminal Vehicles (AITVs) to fully autonomous operation at Jebel Ali – the largest port in the Middle East. The AITVs will use vehicle control from DGWorld based on a sensor fusion technology with LiDAR and radar at its heart to detect objects and be proximity aware. An MTi-Series (industrial Motion Tracker) sensor from Xsens will support the vehicle’s localisation and mapping (3D SLAM) and AI-based real-time decision-making software. These sensors combine a GNSS satellite receiver with an inertial navigation system (INS) in a robust, industrial-grade package, enabling DP World’s AITVs to accurately track their position and navigate around, even when GNSS satellite signals lose locks. This is an important capability when operating in a container port, since the AITVs will navigate through narrow corridors between tall stacks of containers that block the GNSS signals. “The DGWorld autonomous control system is specially designed to match the driving dynamics of heavy industrial vehicles such as the container trucks to be converted for

the Jebel Ali port,” said Matthias Krause, General Manager of DGWorld. “The accuracy and output data rate of the Xsens MTi are perfect for this application. The sensor fusion capabilities of the Xsens motion tracker have also been helpful in the development of the DGWorld autonomous technology: whether performing georeferencing via satellite positioning or via INS, the MTi maintains a stable, consistent and high-frequency output.” The deployment of fully-autonomous ITVs off ers numerous benefi ts to DP World, such as:

• Safer operation – the autonomous ITVs’ high-resolution LiDAR sensors and radar reliably detect and avoid people and objects. Speed measurements from the MTi’s GNSS receiver enable the software system to precisely control the ITV’s speed, and the integrated Xsens IMU continuously optimises the vehicle driving performance. • Higher effi ciency – the autonomous ITVs can operate 24/7, and their routing and operation can be optimised through DGWorld’s Fleet Management software.

Mechanical engineering fi rm receives R&D tax relief for aircraft engine cleaning machine


urface Finishing Engineering (SFE) in Wolverhampton has been awarded £357,000 of government tax incentives after developing a

novel way to clean aircraft engines, reveals R&D tax specialist Catax. The funds were received in the form of R&D tax credits for signifi cantly reducing the time an aircraft engine is removed off wing for maintenance, repair and overhaul work to be carried out. Maintaining engines large enough to

power a Boeing 777 is a huge challenge. They are 2m in diameter, and combine hundreds of diff erent components to produce 115,000 pounds of thrust. During their time in the air, these high-bypass turbofan engines draw in sand, dirt and airborne debris. Typically, it takes 30 days for aircraft engines to be periodically disassembled,

32 July/August 2020 | Automation

chemically cleaned, inspected under UV light and then reassembled.

But, then, SFE was asked by a customer

to reduce the time it takes to clean aircraft engines for effi ciency and speed. It takes time to clean the main high-

pressure turbine, which is the largest section of the jet that contains air and fuel- driven blades for providing aerodynamic force. Being extremely heavy, a lot of the cleaning is done manually, by dipping the components into treatment tanks individually. SFE then created a completely new machine that reduced the cleaning time to only 14 days – 50% reduction in time. SFE worked closely with its client to develop a bespoke solution to chemically clean fully-assembled, high-pressure turbine

modules using proprietary chemicals with the assistance of advanced multi- directional ultrasonic soundwaves. This was a completely new apparatus, capable of housing the turbine whilst cleaned, which meant it no longer has to be taken apart. The machine includes ductwork, routers, chemical tanks and a series of integrated cooling systems, together with an entirely new computer interface and control system. It still relies on chemical dipping but SFE’s researchers soon realised they could make use of ultrasonic transducers, which turn electrical energy into ultrasonic vibrations, to improve the process. By incorporating these into the chemical tanks, the resulting sound waves caused cavitation that allowed the chemicals to work much more eff ectively and effi ciently.

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