Rise of the machines

Self-driving trucks – for some, they’re the stuff of science fiction, for others, they’re already almost a reality. HHLA has been working 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, are testing automated and self-driving trucks in real-life scenarios. The HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA) and an approximately 70 km-long section of the A7 motorway will serve as the 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 will involve two prototype trucks equipped with the corresponding electronic automation systems. In fully automated and autonomous operation they will unload and reload at the terminal CTA. The technical development of the system on the MAN test site in Munich will continue to be pushed forward until June 2020. Test operations will then be carried out between July and December 2020 in more practical settings based on customer needs.

During this second phase, a trained safety driver will always be deployed in the vehicle to monitor the automation systems. They will be able to intervene and take control as needed. In 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.

Driverless vehicles at the container terminal

Last update 04.01.2020