MAN Truck & Bus

Ein MAN 16.320 F fährt ohne Fahrer (Schwarzweiß-Fotografie aus den 1970er Jahren)Ein MAN 16.320 F fährt ohne Fahrer (Schwarzweiß-Fotografie aus den 1970er Jahren)

Controlled by an invisible hand


Ahead of its time: even in 1971 MAN was testing automated driving – but without digital technology. These early experiments laid the foundations for platooning and automated transportation today.

Ein MAN 16.320 F fährt ohne Fahrer (Schwarzweiß-Fotografie um 1971)

The MAN 16.320 F truck travels over the test track at 50 kilometres per hour, it steers through bends and brakes in front of obstacles. A film camera records the experiment. It zooms in on the windscreen: the cab is empty. The truck had nevertheless manoeuvred safely. “Our idea was to relieve the driver”, recalls Dr Hans Hagen, a retired expert in motor vehicles and internal combustion engines. The now 87-year-old managed advanced development at MAN between 1964 and 1973. He and his team were responsible when MAN collaborated with Bosch from 1971 to test automatic vehicle guidance. ”The technology was initially to be used in enclosed areas, such as quarries. The long-term vision was that automated trucks would drive on the motorway.” Albeit there was still no digital control in the 1970s. ”A control cable set into in the centre of the roadway emitted audio-frequency control pulses. Metal coils at the front and rear of the truck received these signals”, explains Hagen. The test vehicle could therefore only be automated where a control cable was laid. Simple technology compared to today, but the basic idea was brilliant. MAN has now successfully realised platooning. 



Dr. Hans Hagen
MAN employee in retirement

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Autonomous Driving in the 1970s MAN started early to develop intelligent mobility solutions.