The world's first no-cab and driverless truck launched in Shanghai
A Chinese tech company Westwell introduced to the world its first electric driverless truck in Shanghai, Sept. 13th. Dubbed Q-Truck, the driver's cab of this self-driving truck was replaced by a storage battery. There's no steering wheel or the pilothouse. The storage battery is on the truck's head and there are replaceable batteries on either side of the truck. Customers can adjust the batteries according to the load of the truck and the length of the road.
The digital picture of a model Q-Truck working in the port. [Photo: Westwell]
The Q-truck has two speed modes, the low speed is about 65-150 km/h, and the high speed is about 150-300 km/h. It takes about two hours to fully charge the truck. The LED screen on the headstock can flash with battery indicators, and there're also multiple warning lights on the truck for checking. The state-of-the-art wireless charging system is available on Q-truck through the WellOcean smart tally system developed by Westwell. All of these could be done automatically through the port's cloud unified dispatching system.
According to Westwell, Q-Truck adopted the i-Loop full time motor energy recovery system. When the truck is taxiing and on brake, it can retrieve about 20% of its energy, which in return could add the 20% of the extra endurance mileage. In this rate, the cost per a hundred kilometer could be lower to 102 yuan and it only cost 37.2 thousand yuan a year. Compared to the diesel engine driving car, Q-Truck could save up to 67% of the budget.
The CEO of Westwell Tan Limin explains that it is safe to operate the vehicle that has no cab in closed environments like ports, logistics parks and mines. Limin says by taking out the cab room and replacing it with the storage battery it could help to save about 30% of the costs, particularly in such places. He says these places usually need to be staffed with seasoned truck drivers for the busy loading seasons, but with Q-truck, it could greatly reduce the human cost.
Goldman Sachs once released a report in 2017 predicting that driverless trucks will take about 300 thousand job opportunities in the next 25 years. Compared to inventing driverless cars for the open road, companies like Volvo, Tesla, Google's Waymo and OTTO seem more eager to produce driverless trucks for closed environments like ports.
Founded in 2015, Westwell is a lab focusing on the neuromorphic engineering. The company has previously introduced a chip that mimics the working principles of human brain neurons. The chip has the learning and specific computing capabilities of the human brain and can mimic the ability of the human brain to process large amounts of sensory information in a short time.