MAN Truck & Bus
Three years ago, MAN and Hamburg Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) decided to jointly implement the “Hamburg TruckPilot” project, which aims to test the autonomous driving of trucks at Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA) and the integration of these trucks into automated container handling. The project is part of a mobility partnership between Volkswagen AG and the Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg.
“Automated hub-to-hub traffic, driverless from start to finish. This may sound like the distant future, but it’s what MAN and Hamburg Hafen und Logistik AG have been jointly researching and testing in the “Hamburg TruckPilot” for the last three years”, explains Andreas Tostmann, CEO of MAN Truck & Bus SE. “Container Terminal Altenwerder has been the venue for testing how autonomously driving MAN trucks can be integrated into automated container handling.”
A lot has happened since the start in 2018 – and the outcome is within reach. The preparatory phase was completed some time ago. The project managers have already also placed a tick against technical development of the system at the MAN test site in Munich. Technical implementation at the CTA site by the 1,400-metre-long Ballinkai quay with four berths has been under way since September 2020.
The corona crisis did of course also put “Hamburg TruckPilot” on hold for a while, but the plan is for test runs to finally commence in May 2021. This will involve two prototype trucks equipped with automation technology autonomously handling the unloading and loading processes – including travelling to and from the loading points within the CTA site.
The driver leaves the truck at the CTA check-in gate.
The vehicle then travels autonomously to the container storage lane.
Once it arrives, the container is automatically transferred.
The truck then returns autonomously to its driver.
A trained MAN safety driver will always be present in the vehicle during this phase to monitor the automation systems. This driver can if necessary intervene and assume the driving duties. The logistics partner for these test operations is Spedition Jakob Weets from Emden. It is providing the real container loads to be handled in the course of trial operation. An additional safety feature is that external displays on the front and sides of the vehicle provide an indication of the actions the truck is currently performing to personnel and other road users on the CTA site. Insofar as the legal framework permits, the driver should eventually be able to leave the truck during the automated loading and unloading processes.
Safe is safe For legal reasons, a trained safety driver currently accompanies autonomous driving. Neither his hands touch the steering wheel nor his feet the accelerator or brake pedal.
Relieving the driver After the driver has left the vehicle at the CTA check-in gate, the truck continues to drive independently on the terminal site.
Intelligent logistics The truck drives autonomously to the block storage lane and finds the right lane for unloading the container on its own.
Correctly maneuvered Once it has arrived at its destination, the truck backs up precisely - again without any human assistance.
Safety first Exterior displays show personnel and other road users what actions the truck is currently performing.
Automatic handling Once the truck has reached its parking position, the container is automatically unloaded or loaded.
Prominent passenger Dr. Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, recently experienced automated driving on the CTA site from the passenger seat.
Like an infrared image The system displays route planning on a monitor, depending on the detected obstacles.
Technologically upgraded The vehicle is equipped with numerous sensors and cameras to enable it to move independently and safely.
Heading toward a climate-neutral future Dr. Herbert Diess after driving the autonomous prototype. The project will be presented at the World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems at the end of October.
Automation expert and project manager Sebastian Völl is very pleased with what has been achieved so far: “The ‘Hamburg TruckPilot’ project is another significant step in MAN’s development of automated driving. As with other projects, the focus here too is on integrating the system into concrete workflows at a future user’s site. We will collaborate with HHLA to generate important findings and further develop the technology into a customer-ready system.”
The gradual unburdening of the driver, who can thus find time for other tasks or even take legally prescribed rest breaks, is just one of the benefits that MAN and HHLA expect to gain from “Hamburg TruckPilot”. Automated journeys moreover increase road safety on company premises and generally relieve the traffic flow. Freight forwarders can also register an increase in efficiency, because automated driving is anticipatory and consequently more fuel-efficient.
“VW boss Herbert Diess, VW Truck & Bus CEO Gunnar Kilian and I had the pleasure end of march of joining HHLA managing directors Angela Titzrath and Oliver Dux for a live experience of automated driving”, relates Tostmann. “For the first time, one of the two prototypes independently manoeuvred to the container storage area and reversed precisely into the correct position for the container to be unloaded. Our next step will be at the end of October when we will finally present the project at the World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems.”
The ,Hamburg TruckPilot' project is another important development step for MAN in automated driving.