Photo credits @ MAN

Self-driving trucks in the wild: test drives on German motorway and in Dutch port

Competition between truck manufacturers is fierce, not only in the field of electrifying road transport, but also in the development of self-driving trucks. Recently, MAN announced the first successful public road test of its autonomous truck, and DAF is also reporting success in testing its self-driving truck in the port of Rotterdam.

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German commercial vehicle manufacturer MAN has achieved a milestone in autonomous driving with the first test drive of a Level 4 self-driving lorry on a public motorway. The ten-kilometre journey took place on the A9 Autobahn between Allershausen and Fürholzen junctions, with Federal Transport Minister Dr. Volker Wissing and MAN CEO Alexander Vlaskamp on board.

MAN is actively developing autonomous lorries for use in logistics hubs and long-distance travel. They recently secured the first Level 4 testing permit under Germany’s new autonomous driving legislation.

This technology is seen as a potential solution to address the growing demand for freight transportation, particularly for long distances between logistics centres. Autonomous lorries could offer increased efficiency, fuel savings, and 24/7 operation without driver breaks. Estimates suggest overall operating costs could be reduced by 10-15%. Additionally, they could help alleviate the current shortage of qualified HGV drivers.

MAN targets series production of autonomous lorries by the end of the decade. Further testing of prototypes on motorways is planned for this year, with hub-to-hub projects planned from 2025 onwards.

DAF’s tests autonomous lorry in Rotterdam port

DAF is also making strides in developing autonomous electric lorries. Their efforts are part of a broader European push for greener transportation solutions, with a focus on reducing emissions in the transport sector.

DAF is collaborating with the Port of Rotterdam on a project named MAGPIE (sMArt Green Ports as Integrated Efficient multimodal hubs) which aims to develop a roadmap for achieving carbon-free transport in and around European ports by 2050.

Photo credits @ Magpie – Smart Green Ports

As part of the MAGPIE project, DAF has provided a specially equipped truck to test self-driving electric lorries within the controlled environment of the Port of Rotterdam. These initial trials focus on automating specific tasks within the port, such as driving to and from charging stations and loading bays.

While a safety driver is currently present for monitoring purposes, the project’s long-term goal is fully autonomous operation within designated areas of the port to create a highly efficient, clean, and safe internal logistics network.