MAN Truck & Bus
Together with seven partners from industry, research and administration, MAN undertook the aFAS research project ("automatisch fahrerlos fahrendes Absicherungsfahrzeug für Arbeitsstellen auf Bundesautobahnen" [automatic driverless safety vehicles for construction sites on German motorways]). This developed and tested the prototypes for a safety vehicle and involved a driverless and fully automated MAN TGM 18.340 with cameras, radar equipment, various assistance systems, some specially developed ambient sensors and built-in object and lane marking detectors. The truck followed the mobile construction sites on the hard shoulder of motorways in Hesse at a defined distance. This proved to be a real safety gain for construction site personnel and vehicles – after all around 44 percent of the accidents on German motorways involve trucks in the nearside lane or on the hard shoulder. For the first time, this project promoted by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy fully analysed the technical feasibility, the actual operation of automated vehicles on public roads and any necessary statutory or regulatory modifications. MAN also gleaned valuable experience from aFAS in relation to future series developments as well as further testing and research projects involving automated and autonomous driving – such as platooning.
The EDDI project ("Elektronische Deichsel – Digitale Innovation" [Electronic Tow Bar – Digital Innovation]) offered a world première: for five months, professional truck drivers drove dummy weights, then real goods on two MAN TGX articulated trains at a maximum speed of 80 kilometres per hour between DB Schenker terminals in Munich and Nuremberg on the almost 145-kilometre-long digital test section of the A9. This involved the rear vehicle using a special WLAN connection for vehicle-to-vehicle communication as well as multiple redundant sensors and various assistance systems to follow the acceleration, braking and steering of the lead vehicle – synchronously, without active input from the driver and at a distance of around 15 metres. The platoon was terminated in particular situations, such as at motorway intersections.
Jointly with DB Schenker and Fresenius University of Applied Sciences, who investigated the psychosocial and neurophysiological effects on the driver, MAN used the project promoted by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure to make significant advances in the development of platooning. A total of 35,000 kilometres were covered in the practical test and in each case around 73 kilometres per journey were completed in a coupled platoon. The platoon system worked smoothly 98 percent of the time; the driver only had to intervene once over an average of 2,000 kilometres and in addition around three to four percent less fuel was required.
The conclusion: journeys using digitally networked trucks on German motorways are safe, function in a technically reliable manner, can easily be integrated into a logistics company's everyday routines and can reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Truck platoons therefore contribute to more efficient use of the space on motorways, ensure fewer tailbacks and result in greater road safety. The driver's activity switches from driving to monitoring. DB Schenker reckons that almost 40 percent of all general cargo journeys are suitable for truck platoons – a lot of potential that can be further increased by ongoing developments and new digital business models.
MAN and Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) have been using the "Hamburg TruckPilot" project to test automated and driverless trucks driving in real deployments to move from the check-in gate to the block storage lane at the HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA) in Hamburg. Subsequent plans include using an approximately 70-kilometre-long section of the A7 as a test environment. The aim is to analyse how driverless trucks are integrated into the fully automatic container handling process and to define forward-looking standards for methodology and implementation.
Two prototype trucks will commence their trials after the preparatory and test phase that includes system development at the MAN test facilities in Munich – probably in spring 2021. They will be equipped with electronic systems and are intended to fully automate the loading and unloading at CTA. Trained safety drivers from project partner Spedition Jakob Weets will be present in the trucks.
Hamburg TruckPilot has several objectives: greater efficiency, improved safety at the terminal and reduction in driver workload. The project clearly underlines the major complexity of automation procedures, because there is a need to consider a number of vehicles at the terminal that do not have sensor technology. Automation level 4 is nevertheless being more and more specifically targeted.
The ANITA project ("Autonome Innovation im Terminalablauf" [Autonomous Innovation in Terminal Procedures]) aims to achieve more efficient container handling. It involves MAN collaborating with Deutsche Bahn, Fresenius University of Applied Sciences and Götting AG to test more flexible container handling under real conditions by using a fully automated truck at the DUSS terminal in Dornstadt near Ulm. There will be a safety driver on board, but the plan is for the fully automated MAN truck to move around DB Intermodal Services container depot and the terminal in Dornstadt. An experienced crane driver will be responsible for handling the containers. ANITA is setting new standards for digitisation in combined transport and the digital infrastructure is now being installed on site.