Forwarding companies want the driverless truck, study says

January 23, 2019 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Forwarding companies want the driverless truck, study says
In the ATLaS research project, scientists from the Technical University of Hamburg and the DLR Research Institute are investigating where companies active in road freight transport see opportunities for more added value through digitisation and automation. A first interim result is now available: The logistics industry largely prefers driverless trucks.

In the ATLaS research project, the scientists investigated which level of automation is favoured by users, which driving forces or hurdles they see for the use of automated technologies in road freight transport and which cornerstones and framework conditions are relevant. In addition, the project will investigate the effects of different scenarios of automated and networked driving and develop recommendations for action. Although the study relates to the German market, it is likely to be valid for many industrialised countries.

The project does not end until mid-2019, but a first interim result has already been published: If the logistics and freight forwarding companies are right, the driverless, networked truck could soon become a reality. If this technology is to find its way into freight transport, however, it is urgently necessary to set the course for this - i.e. to initiate the necessary legal framework and possible infrastructure investments.

Platooning is losing traction

In the project, the scientists interviewed managers from logistics companies. The results show that future users of automated trucks do not want a semi-automated vehicle in which the driver's cab functions as a "mobile office" and the driver can still perform tasks such as administrative work while driving. This is the scenario that has been discussed so far in connection with platooning. Platooning means that several vehicles, each with a driver in the vehicle, drive at very short intervals of about ten metres behind each other, controlled in real-time by V2X communications. This saves fuel and reduces the driver's workload. For logistics companies, however, this scenario would only be worthwhile if only one driver (in the front truck) actually steers the entire train.

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