MAN and HHLA Launch “Hamburg TruckPilot” to Test Automated and Autonomous Trucks

The goal of the partnership is to analyze and validate the exact requirements for customer-specific deployment in a real-world setting, and integration of autonomously driven trucks into the fully automatic container handling process.

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As part of the transport partnership between Volkswagen AG and the City of Hamburg, host of the World Congress on Intelligent Transport and Transportation Systems (ITS) 2021, MAN Truck & Bus and Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) will be testing automated and autonomous trucks in real use over the coming years. The project partners have signed a cooperation agreement to this effect. The HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA) and a 70-km stretch of the A7 motorway are to serve as the field testing environment.

With the “Hamburg TruckPilot” practical testing, which is scheduled for the next 2-1/2 years, MAN Truck & Bus and HHLA are launching a highly innovative research and testing project for the development of automation solutions in road transport. The goal of the partnership between MAN and HHLA is to analyze and validate the exact requirements for customer-specific deployment in a real-world setting and the integration of autonomously driven trucks into the fully automatic container handling process. At the same time, forward-looking standards for methodology and implementation are to be defined. "The project 'Hamburg TruckPilot' is another important development step for automated driving for MAN. As with other projects, the focus here is on integrating the system into concrete workflows for a future user. Together with HHLA, we will generate important insights for the further development of the technology into a system that is ready for the customer," emphasizes Dr. Frederik Zohm, Member of the Board of Management for Research and Development at MAN Truck & Bus.

Initially, the project framework envisages two prototype trucks equipped with the necessary electronic automation systems. They will enter the A7 motorway at the Soltau-Ost junction fully automated, then autonomously handle unloading and loading within the Altenwerder container terminal. The project is divided into three phases. In the preparatory phase, which has already been started and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018, the technical framework conditions will be defined.

The testing phase is planned to run from January 2019 until June 2020. This will cover the technical development of the system on the MAN testing grounds in Munich, in accordance with the specific requirements identified in the preparatory phase. The design of the trial operations between July and December 2020 will be informed by the results of the preparatory and testing phases, and the operations will take place in a customer-relevant application context. A trained safety driver will always be present in the vehicle during this phase to monitor the automation systems. If required, they will intervene and become an active driver.

In the future, automated driving functions will provide relief and support for truck drivers during their work. For example, assuming the legal fundamentals are in place, the driver could process freight documents during fully automated motorway travel or simply take a rest. In the event of autonomous loading and unloading, the driver can leave the vehicle and use the time for their legally prescribed breaks. Other potential benefits include increasing efficiency through automated defensive driving. This significantly reduces fuel consumption and can also positively influence the general flow of traffic. Last but not least, the project partners expect improved safety in all areas.

The “Hamburg TruckPilot” project is part of the strategic transport partnership between the City of Hamburg and the Volkswagen Group. The goal of this partnership is to work together to shape the urban transport of the future and to develop Hamburg as a model city for futuristic, sustainable and integrated transportation. "Hamburg TruckPilot" is an important project of the ITS strategy in the field of "Automated and Connected Driving" for the city of Hamburg. It will be presented at the 28th ITS World Congress, which will take place from October 10-15, 2021 in Hamburg.