Transportation

Port Of Houston Wants To Try Out New Automated Cargo Transport System

Texas A&M has just unveiled a new transportation system that could take a lot of traffic off local freeways.

The Automated Freight Shuttle is designed to move trailers and cargo containers.
The Automated Freight Shuttle is designed to move trailers and cargo containers.
The Port of Houston says the new freight shuttle system could help cut down on pollution from idling trucks.
The Port of Houston says the new freight shuttle system could help cut down on pollution from idling trucks.
Researchers say the shuttle system could operate in freeway medians.
Researchers say the shuttle system could operate in freeway medians.

Governor Greg Abbott was blunt when he talked about the traffic on Texas highways.

“It’s a sad day when a guy pushing a wheelchair can go faster than traffic stuck on some of our congested roadways,” said Abbott.

Abbott made his comments as the Texas A&M Transportation Institute debuted a new system that could get a lot of trucks out of the mix. It’s called the Autonomous Freight Shuttle System. It’s an elevated guideway that uses electric shuttles to move trailers and cargo containers. Developers say you could run it down the middle of a roadway, separating cargo from passenger vehicles, with the goal of cutting down on congestion and pollution

One of the first places we could see the shuttle in operation is at the Port of Houston. The port has signed an agreement with Freight Shuttle International, the private company created to market the design.

Port Executive Director Roger Guenther says they’ll now start looking into how exactly they can use the system: “Which will improve efficiencies, avoid the future congestion, lower emissions, and provide a safer opportunity and alternative during the movement of freight.”

While there’s a lot of rail activity at the port, most cargo leaves by truck. And that poses a lot of challenges as the region works to meet federal clean air mandates.

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Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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