Vehicle manufacturer MAN wants to bring a fully autonomous truck onto German highways this year. The test drives are intended to show the potential of the technology.
In addition to the electrification of road transport, many vehicle manufacturers are increasingly focusing on autonomous driving. So-called Level 4 systems are expected to enable fully automated driving on certain roads in the near future. The Munich truck manufacturer MAN recently announced that it wanted to test an autonomous truck this year.
The project is based on collaboration with eleven different partners and is intended to demonstrate how advanced the technology already is. For safety reasons, a flesh-and-blood driver still sits behind the wheel while driving. Legal provisions also require that intervention should be possible at any time.
Autonomous trucks: MAN hopes for greater efficiency
MAN Head of Development Frederik Zohm said that the model will soon be the first autonomous truck on a German highway. The company expects its use to significantly increase efficiency. According to MAN, routes between logistics stations are safer and have fewer traffic jams on the roads.
To ensure safe orientation at all times, the autonomous prototype has various sensors on the roof, at the front and on both sides of the driver’s cab. Until the project starts, the vehicle continuously collects data about the area in which it is driven and prepares it for later use.
Security also plays an essential role
The vehicle sends the information to a remote monitoring control center, which the project partners put into operation about two months ago. From there, the truck can be continuously monitored – such as its speed and current position. But MAN has also thought about the security of the IT systems.
In collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied and Integrated Security, the manufacturer defined various measures to protect the infrastructure from third parties. These include redundant systems and data traffic encryption. It will soon become clear whether the first autonomous highway test drive will be a success.