Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) and the vehicle manufacturer MAN Truck & Bus have completed the joint project Hamburg TruckPilot, setting a milestone in automated container transport in port terminals.
During the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress 2021 held on 13 October in Hamburg, the Board Member for Research and Development of MAN, Frederik Zohm stated "Pilot projects like Hamburg TruckPilot prove that the use of self-driving trucks is technologically feasible and can be efficiently integrated into logistics processes, and autonomous driving will be a game-changer in transportation."
"In close cooperation with customers and partners, we are testing practical automation solutions with the aim of getting self-driving trucks ready for series production from 2030," added Zohm.
The two German partners have successfully completed the three-year 'Hamburg TruckPilot' project during the previous summer, with the objective which was also part of the partnership between the City of Hamburg and the parent company of MAN, Volkswagen AG, including the development and practical testing of an autonomous truck in container handling at the HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA).
More specifically, during the practical trips, the logistics partner Spedition Jakob Weets e.K. first transported 40-foot containers controlled by a driver on behalf of Volkswagen Group Logistics to the CTA terminal in the Port of Hamburg.
There, the truck drove autonomously across the terminal area and moved smoothly in mixed traffic with other road users. It also drove to its destination in the block storage lane and it manoeuvred itself backwards with high precision into the parking position.
After container handling, the return journey to the check gate was autonomous, and beyond the terminal grounds, the driver of the Jakob Weets e.K. haulage company once again took full command.
Till Schlumberger, project manager at HHLA responsible for Hamburg TruckPilot, stated that "HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder with its highly automated processes is the ideal test environment for trying out promising technologies."
He also went on to point out that even though the safe integration of autonomous trucks into the terminal processes is a major challenge because autonomous and classic transports are intermingled, "with Hamburg TruckPilot, we were able to show that this application is possible and promising in practice."
With a view to autonomous driving between different logistics hubs in hub-to-hub traffic, which has the potential to make freight transport safer, more efficient and more sustainable, the partners have already collected data on the manual feeder trips between the Weets Container Terminal Soltau and the port area 70 kilometres away.
In order to drive automation forward, MAN plans to launch further cooperation projects for the development of autonomous hub-to-hub transport, with a goal to realise autonomously driving trucks as series solutions from 2030 onwards.