MAN Truck & Bus

This truck operates without a driver

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No innovation preoccupies the transport industry more than autonomous driving. MAN, Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG and Spedition Jakob Weets are currently working together on their Hamburg TruckPilot project, testing how suitable it is for everyday use – with initial successes.

Luftaufnahme Hafen Hamburg

Unmanned controls MAN tests an autonomous truck on a closed area of the Port of Hamburg. © GettyImages/golero

Lkw steht vor einem Gebäude

Dreams of the future Autonomous trucks would be a significant development for the logistics industry.

The truck travels north along the A 7 past green fields and the pink-flowering shrubs in the Lüneburger Heide nature park. It turns off at the Finkenwerder exit and drives towards the Port of Hamburg. Whilst the driver completes the freight documentation, the truck moves autonomously to its unloading point in the port area. 

MAN Truck & Bus, Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG and Spedition Weets from Emden would like to realise this future scenario. The partners are testing the possibilities for autonomous solutions in road transport until 2021 with their innovative “Hamburg TruckPilot” research project. They will present the results at the 28th World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems in Hamburg in October 2021. The Volkswagen Group joined forces with the Hanseatic City of Hamburg to form a strategic partnership for the “Hamburg TruckPilot” project: they want to work together to shape urban mobility, define the requirements for autonomous trucks and to define standards in methodology and practice. They define Hamburg as a model city.

Test over 70 kilometres 

From July 2017 until the end of 2018, the project partners defined the technical framework conditions and the necessary equipment. The technical development has taken place since January 2019. The practical phase will follow from July 2020 involving customers with two fully autonomous trucks. A section of road that is more than 70 kilometres long will be used as the test track. “There will be a safety driver present continuously during the journeys who can intervene at any time”, states Bernd Kelsch, Project Manager at Spedition Weets. “He will also report on how the vehicle reacts to the weather conditions and while on site so that the system can be improved.” 

Autonomous trucks would be a significant development for the logistics industry. It is becoming more and more difficult to man the trucks due to the current lack of drivers. They will also save time because the drivers can do something different during the journey. However, the project partners hope that the autonomous solution will also provide greater safety on the roads, reduce fuel consumption and ensure a smooth flow of traffic.