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Autonomous Grab Ship Unloaders for Bulk Materials

The task of operating a grab ship unloader driverlessly and fully autonomously was long regarded as impossible. With the combination of a real-time 3D LiDAR laser scanner, highly accurate RTK GPS system for machine positioning and an internally developed leading-edge control technology, however, iSAM was successful in solving the task. Four unloaders in Hamburg and four unloaders in Rotterdam are currently equipped with this technology.

The highlights of the iSAM solution:

zentraler Leitstand

Operation of all equipment from one central control station, i.e. minimum stress for the operator in the control room


Real-time determination of the grab position

Automatisches Entladen

Autonomous unloading even under the hatch coaming

Energie- und Positionsmodell

Permanent update of data for the energy and position model for the grab’s moving path

The advantages of the system:

  • Significant reduction of personnel costs through driverless operation under virtually any weather conditions
  • Very uniform unloading performance
  • Lower wear and tear because mechanical performance limits are respected in automated mode
  • Fulfillment of operational guidelines and safety rules
  • No collision of the load with the ship, with any obstacles on the deck or the crane structure due to hard stops thanks to predictive energy and position model
  • Improved working conditions


Europees Massagoed-Overslagbedrijf (EMO) B.V.

the Netherlands

Hansaport Hafenbetriebsgesellschaft mbH


Supported by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology

Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie