Autonomous Driving

Self-driving trucks operate autonomously at the HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA), and even the loading and unloading processes are fully automated. This may sound like science fiction, but this technology was already tested with MAN Truck & Bus as part of a joint project on driverless vehicles at the Port of Hamburg. The goal: to actively shape the goods transport of the future. “Hamburg TruckPilot” is the name of the highly innovative project for the development of automated solutions in road transport.

The test procedure: the truck receives the autonomous driving order via touchpad at the check gate. It autonomously drives to the assigned block storage to deliver its container. The drive is monitored by a MAN safety driver. The truck is even able to back into a parking space in the assigned block storage aisle with high precision. The truck then autonomously leaves the container terminal.

In future, “Hamburg TruckPilot” is expected to provide truck drivers with both support and relief. Drivers will be able to leave their vehicles during the subsequent autonomous loading and unloading at the terminal and use that time for mandatory breaks. Other advantages include reduced fuel consumption, which is a result of anticipatory, automated driving, and increased safety.

Rise of the machines

Self-driving trucks – for some, this sounds like science fiction, for others, this has almost become reality. HHLA successfully worked together with MAN Truck & Bus on a project to introduce driverless vehicles to the Port of Hamburg – a project that will actively shape the goods transport of the future.

HHLA and the truck manufacturer MAN Truck & Bus, which is owned by the Volkswagen Group, successfully tested automated and self-driving trucks in real-life scenarios. The HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA) served as an important test environment. “Hamburg TruckPilot” is the name of the highly innovative research and testing project for the development of automated solutions in road transport. The aim of the partnership is to analyse and validate the precise requirements for customer-specific deployment and integration of self-driving trucks into the automated container throughput process under realistic conditions. At the same time, the two companies will also be defining pioneering standards for the associated methodology and implementation.


Autonomous loading and unloading at the terminal

Initially, the project involved two prototype trucks equipped with the corresponding electronic automation systems. In fully automated and autonomous operation they unload and reload at the terminal CTA. Trained safety driver were always deployed in the vehicle to monitor the automation systems. They were able to intervene and take control as needed.

Driverless vehicles at the container terminal

Advantages of autonomous driving

In the future, automated driving functionalities will both support truck drivers in their work and relieve them of some of the strain. For example - during the autonomous loading and unloading at the terminal, they could leave the vehicle and use that time for mandatory breaks. Further potential advantages are found in the increase in efficiency that results from anticipatory, automated driving. The concept significantly reduces fuel consumption and can positively influence the general flow of traffic. The project partners also promise an increase in overall safety. 

The Hamburg TruckPilot project is part of the strategic mobility partnership between the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and Volkswagen AG.

Autonomous driving is coming: Interview with Till Schlumberger and Sebastian Völl, the project leaders of Hamburg TruckPilot at HHLA and MAN Truck & Bus.

Read the complete interview about autonomous drivingat HHLA-Magazin

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