MAN and HHLA launch ‘Hamburg TruckPilot‘ to test automated and autonomously driving trucks

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineOctober 2, 2018

As part of the transport partnership between Volkswagen AG and the City of Hamburg, 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 HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA) and a 70-kilometre stretch of the A7 motorway are to serve as the field testing environment.

With the ‘Hamburg TruckPilot‘ practical testing, scheduled for the next two and a half 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 is to analyse 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,” said Dr Frederik Zohm, member of the board of management for research and development at MAN Truck & Bus. “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.”

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, scheduled for completion by the end of 2018, the technical framework conditions will be defined.

The testing phase will 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 and intervene if required.

In the future, automated driving functions will provide relief and support for truck drivers during their work. For example, a driver could process freight documents during fully automated motorway travel or simply 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, which significantly reduces fuel consumption, and improved safety in all areas.