MAN Truck & Bus


ITS World Congress: Infrastructures for the logistics of the future


At the ITS World Congress 2021 in Hamburg, 400 international exhibitors – including MAN with Hamburg TruckPilot – presented new technologies for the near future of transport, logistics and mobility. In order for the vehicles of tomorrow to be safe, efficient and environmentally friendly, they need suitable technological ecosystems, such as charging solutions with green electricity, powerful data connections and intelligent logistics software. The tour of the ITS (Part 2) presents interesting approaches for the future infrastructure of the transport sector.

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Milestone set Freight forwarder Jakob Weets, MAN Truck & Bus Senior Vice President – Head of Automation Mikael Edstam and HHLA CEO Angela Titzrath (from left to right) have driven autonomous driving forward with their joint pilot project Hamburg TruckPilot.

Automation, digitalization and electromobility are the major future fields that MAN Truck & Bus and the entire transport industry are currently occupying. This is also reflected in the topics of the approximately 400 international exhibitors who presented their current projects at the ITS World Congress 2021 in Hamburg in October. Much revolves around the innovative use of vehicles – this includes the Hamburg TruckPilot cooperation project, in which MAN, Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) and Spedition Weets tested the use of an autonomously driving truck in the Altenwerder container terminal (CTA). At the same time, it became very clear at the ITS that the infrastructures on the transport routes and in logistics terminals must also keep pace with the further developments of vehicle technologies. This is especially true when switching to electric mobility, which is increasingly advancing.

Vehicles become energy storage

The advantages of battery-electric drives in terms of climate friendliness and cost-effectiveness can only be fully exploited if there is a comprehensive range of charging solutions and emission-free electricity generated from renewable energies. Elli, a subsidiary of Volkswagen, is taking on this challenge. It creates a complete energy ecosystem around the vehicle, from wallboxes to digital services. At the ITS, Elli also demonstrated how electric vehicles can become part of the climate-neutral energy system by using high-voltage batteries as mobile storage systems.

"Our technology of bidirectional charging makes it possible to store self-generated, renewable electricity – for example from the photovoltaic system of a building – in the vehicle and feed it back into the house if necessary. For example, at night, when no solar power can be generated," explains Peter Schmidtke, Sales Manager at Elli. In this way, customers not only become more independent of the public power grid, but also save costs and CO2.

The Fresh project, which HHLA presented at the ITS, is based on a similar principle. It is a joint project with Next Kraftwerke GmbH, one of the largest virtual power plant operators in Europe. The aim of the pioneering project is to integrate the battery capacities of the automatic container transport vehicles (AGVs) used at the Altenwerder container terminal as flexible storage systems into the German energy grid in order to contribute to grid stability and to cushion fluctuations in the availability of weather-dependent energy sources. By 2022, the approximately 100 AGVs used at the terminal to transport containers between the ship and the block warehouse are to be completely converted to fast-charging lithium-ion batteries. In purely mathematical terms, they could provide the electricity market with an output of 4 megawatts at the then 18 charging stations on the CTA. However, terminal operation must not be impaired, which is why only vehicles that are not currently needed give up their battery capacities.

Overhead lines for hybrid trucks

In addition to battery-electric drives, there are other technologies for electromobility. Siemens Mobility presented the eHighway. This innovation supplies hybrid trucks with electricity via an overhead line on the motorway. Compared to truck transports with conventional fuels, this reduces energy consumption by half. This reduces local air pollution and contributes significantly to the decarbonisation of road freight transport. In Germany, the eHighway from Siemens Mobility is currently being tested on three public test tracks: on the A5 motorway in Hesse, on the A1 in Schleswig-Holstein and on the B462 federal highway in Baden-Württemberg. Siemens Mobility is working to make the truck overhead contact line system available throughout Europe. The technology should be compatible with various drives and also with networked and autonomous driving.

In order for autonomous vehicles to be able to drive efficiently and accident-free on the roads, the support of a digital infrastructure is required. Deutsche Telekom and its subsidiary T Systems presented various solutions relating to the future technologies of 5G, sensor technology, cloud computing and artificial intelligence. These include cloud-based location systems for navigation, sensors that indicate free parking spaces, and AI detection systems that measure bus passenger utilization in real time. The new 5G mobile communications standard ensures that sufficient capacities are available for data transmission for a secure connection to the network with low latency times.

"Our technology of bidirectional charging makes it possible to store self-generated, renewable electricity – for example from the photovoltaic system of a building – in the vehicle and feed it back into the house if necessary."

Peter Schmidtke
Sales Manager at Elli

Data streams determine logistics

The evaluation of real-time data from transport is becoming increasingly important for the development of innovative, environmentally friendly and user-friendly mobility concepts. The Mobility Data Space was developed so that different companies and actors from the mobility and transport sectors can securely share their data with each other. It is a data marketplace where equal partners in the mobility sector can exchange data in a self-determined manner. The digital ecosystem presented at the ITS links public and private sector data. It is characterized by high standards with regard to transparency, data protection, decentralization and self-determination rights of the participants. Data providers can define and control the conditions under which their data is used by other actors. The sponsoring company is the non-profit organization DRM Datenraum Mobilität GmbH.

In the course of digitization, transport and traffic companies are also increasingly becoming IT companies. The range of software on offer at the ITS was correspondingly diverse, for example for fleet and depot management. The company PSI Software presented a depot and charging management system that coordinates the control, charging and scheduling of all emission-free vehicles in the bus depot. It takes into account all necessary influencing factors and dependencies and ensures optimum vehicle availability. In practice, this means, for example, that the vehicles leave the depot in the optimal sequencing and return there and are parked in the optimal place. 

The record figures of the ITS 2021 prove how great the industry's interest in new developments in the field of automation, digitization and electromobility is, as MAN is also driving forward. More than 13,000 trade visitors attended the World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems.

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