Driverless HGV pilot: vehicles to cross 4 borders and demonstrate terminal operations at 4 harbours

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Automated HGVs without precautionary safety drivers will carry out real logistics operations in Europe for 3.5 half years starting from October 2022, announced the European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA). In this pilot project, the autonomous 40-ton lorries will cross four national borders on the transport corridor from the Netherlands to Norway and demonstrate terminal operations at four different harbours and terminals en route.

Driverless HGV pilot: vehicles to cross 4 borders and demonstrate terminal operations at 4 harbours
Photo credits @ GRUBER Logistics, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The MODI project will demonstrate automated heavy-haul vehicles without safety drivers use cases on the motorway corridor from Rotterdam in the Netherlands to Moss in Norway, crossing four national borders and demonstrating terminal operations at four different harbours and terminals en route.

Automated transport will significantly contribute to improving European transport and logistic chains. The MODI research project will make substantial steps toward identifying and resolving barriers preventing this from coming true.

The participants hope that introducing CCAM can lead to many positive societal effects, such as safer and more efficient transport everywhere and for everyone.

“In mobility, the logistics sector is special because of the scarcity of heavy truck drivers, the pressure to reduce costs and the high utilisation of vehicles compared to private passenger transport. Therefore, profitable business cases as a consequence of the automated vehicles for the logistics sector are already very likely,” CLEPA explains in its announcement.

“Even though the development of automated transport is accelerating, there are still many hindrances to overcome before we see a full-scale introduction of such transportation,” the organisation adds. These obstacles are related to the maturity of the technology itself but also to regulations, harmonisations, and social acceptance. The hindrances escalate when considering border-crossing transport.

With ITS Norway as the project coordinator, the MODI project aims to speed up the introduction of highly automated freight vehicles through demonstrations and to overcome barriers to the roll-out of automated transport systems and solutions in logistics.

The transport corridor from the Netherlands to Norway has been chosen for demonstration activities. Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway are among the European countries expected to be the first movers to implement fully automated vehicles.

The project comprises five use cases, each describing a part of the logistics chain. It identifies what is required for automated driving level without human interaction (known as SAE level 4), and what is not possible yet. The project will focus on understanding and overcoming the regulatory barriers and infrastructure shortcomings on the motorway corridor for public roads. The confined areas are terminals located by Rotterdam, Hamburg, Gothenburg, and Moss ports. Each terminal focuses on challenges like access control, charging, coordination with automated guided vehicles, loading/unloading and handover from public to confined areas.

In addition to the demonstrations, MODI provides detailed business models for the logistics sector, demonstrating that CCAM vehicles can lead to greater profits, especially when driving in a coordinated way. The project will be rolled out from October 2022 for 3.5 years.

The pilot is mostly financed by the European Commission through the Horizon Europe framework program which has awarded a funding grant of €23 million for a total budget of approximately €28 million.

Also, a consortium made up of 29 private entities take part in the project to test and validate the implementation of cooperative, connected and automated mobility (CCAM) solutions for real-logistics operations.

The consortium comprises 29 partners, of whom 16 are representing industrial organisations, vehicle providers, logistics, and associations, 8 research organisations and universities, and 5 road authorities, public bodies, and cities/regions along the corridor, representing the complete value chain.


Photo credits @ GRUBER Logistics, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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