Germany launches first practical use of truck platooning

The first trials of networked trucks began today in Germany. Freight and logistics specialist DB Schenker, in partnership with MAN Truck & Bus, has commenced evaluating a convoy of heavy vehicles along a 145-kilometre stretch of the A9 highway.

Trucks on the initial run won’t carry loads until August when payloads of machine parts, drinks and paper will be introduced on each of the three daily trips. 

The joint project, which includes input from Hochschule Fresenius University of Applied Sciences, is being used to promote the benefits of automated driving.

German Federal Transportation Minister, Andreas Scheuer, said an automated network of future road haulage represented an opportunity to discover greater efficiencies and provide new skill sets for truck drivers who would become logistics specialists in digital trucks.

“This is a visionary research project for our digital test site, the A9 highway. We bring tomorrow’s technology onto today’s roads, testing the intelligent interaction of man, machine and material,” said Scheuer.

“Our opportunities: logistics processes—from ramp to customer—can become safer, more efficient and more environmentally friendly.”

Alexander Doll, DB Board Member for Freight Transport and Logistics, said the first use of truck platoons in Germany would set new standards in the logistics market.

“With this project, DB Schenker is showing what matters for companies all over the world in the future: advancing innovations through new partnerships,” he said.

According to Joachin Drees, CEO, MAN Truck & Bus AG, the trial is not just about using technology, but an opportunity to integrate it effectively into the entire logistics chain.

“The findings from the joint project are an important step towards series development,” he said.

“This will give MAN a leading role in the automation and digitisation of commercial vehicles.”

This follows a recent demonstration by Volvo Trucks on a test track in Sweden, in which three semi trailer combinations were linked together as a wireless convoy. The third truck in the chain operated autonomously as it performed steering functions without any driver input.

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