MAN Truck & Bus
Autonomous driving opens up new vistas for society and the economy: Logistics compa- nies, industrial and commercial customers, not to mention citizens can benefit from safer, more efficient and more environmentally friendly transportation of heavy goods.
Commercial vehicles that travel between central hubs in Germany are the ideal use case for this next generation technology: They travel on federal motorways and A-roads, mainly outside cities, and link major logistics hubs along the federal motorways in one of the most modern examples of transport infrastructure in the world.
For manufacturers, the development of autonomous commercial vehicles requires signifi- cant investment. Therefore, from a political point of view, it is crucial that we strive for a holistic solution that taps into the potential of all deployment scenarios (in long-haul goods transport and combined transport), creates efficient procedures and homogeneous standards for approval across federal states, and facilitates a commercial trial operation that will accelerate the development phase and involve all market participants at an early stage.
The digital future of logistics is coming into view. Terminal 4.0 is already a reality, now driverless commercial vehicles are paving the way to logistics 4.0. So-called hub-to-hub transportation facilitates autonomous transport of goods on federal motorways and A-roads, between important logistics hubs.
Traffic routes and vehicles can be used more efficiently. The human driver is relieved of their driving duties, thus eliminating a risk factor. This enables market participants to better address real-world challenges such as the growing shortage of drivers, tight deliv- ery windows and rising traffic volumes. A tightly meshed, networked and fully digitalised logistics landscape spans all industrial sectors via important roadways and hubs. A loca- tional advantage for Germany.
The prerequisite for this: The future technology autonomous driving needs to be applica- ble in different environmental conditions. Focussing on individual transport areas or vehic- le categories would lead to serious limitations and become a barrier to market take-up.
MAN on its way to autonomous driving: MAN has been carrying out extensive development work for many years now, in projects such as platooning or driverless transportation at depots and terminals.
provide images of the surroun- dings which are then used to detect static and dynamic objects (traffic signs, lanes, etc.)
detect objects even in poor visibility conditions and determine their position or distance and speed.
locate the vehicle and calculate route parameters for navigation.
guarantee permanent monitoring of the vehicle status by the operator's control centre (via the Cloud).
Intermodal transport can also be managed more flexibly and efficiently with consistent automation. In the near future, it will not only be driverless commercial vehicles that are transporting goods throughout Germany: Other modes of transport have their sights firm- ly set on autonomous driving as well.
The operational ranges of commercial vehicles are not based on the borderlines of mu- nicipalities or federal states. If autonomous commercial vehicles are to make a significant impact on transport logistics, clear standards and efficient processes are required for supraregional approval of operational areas. This reduces the degree of organisational effort for manufacturers and users, but also for public administration.
As the vehicles and applications are still undergoing development, extensive testing is required. In addition to simulating different operational and traffic scenarios, the genera- tion of valuable data from real traffic events is also essential. This should involve a large number of test kilometres, corresponding energy consumption and emissions. It makes sense from both an economic and an ecological point of view to enable commercial trial operation with real-life goods transport right from the outset.
Technical supervision is established in the form of a control centre, which can intervene if the autonomous commercial vehicle’s system issues a particular warning and enable alternative driving manoeuvres or suggest alternative driving manoeuvres. In principle, high requirement profiles pertaining to the technical supervisors, as set out in the draft law, should be welcomed. But they should not be too ambitious, especially in view of the shortage of skilled workers.
Example: The plan for technical supervisors is to hold a valid CE driving licence and a technical degree. This may make sense in the market launch phase, but it should be amended during the evaluation of the regulations in 2023, as provided for in the draft law.
Technical vehicle approval at federal level (Federal Office for Motor Vehicles) or by way of §19.6 Road Traffic Licening Regulations for the development process (federal state level).
1 point of contact for the operator at federal state level from starting point to destination, especially in the case f operational areas spanning more than one federal state.
Green light in only 2 steps
Only autonomously driving commercial vehicles will make fully automated supply chains possible. Germany is in an ideal position to set important standards for this promising technology – from the vehicle industry to transport infrastructure and the qualification of skilled workers.
At MAN, we are making our contribution by continuously working on the further develop- ment of our vehicles and focussing all of our innovative capacity on bringing pioneering new technologies to market maturity. This benefits not only customers and users, but the public in general.
Policymakers must now set the course to harness the outstanding potential of this future technology for Germany.