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Dockworkers v. Robots, Los Angeles Edition

Fully automated AutoStrads move shipping containers at the Port of Los Angeles.

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Credit: Bloomberg

The International Longshore & Warehouse Union is fighting a plan by Denmark's AP Moller-Maersk to use unmanned electric vehicles instead of diesel trucks to move shipping containers around the Los Angeles port terminal, the largest in the U.S.

The move would lower the company's costs by reducing the need for truck drivers, and aid compliance with California's air pollution regulations.

In 2008, the union agreed to allow West Coast terminal owners to introduce automation, in a deal that requires terminals to increase wages and pension benefits.

The company claims it is trying to follow the local rules, which are designed to improve the environment and public health by reducing diesel and greenhouse gas emissions.

Two other area terminals have introduced self-driving technology, such as “straddle carriers” that grab containers on the wharf and stack them for hauling away.

Maersk opened the world's first fully automated terminal in Rotterdam in 2015.

From Financial Times
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