On June 12, 2023, the AWARD H2020 initiative achieved a significant milestone by unveiling an innovative autonomous logistics hub-to-hub testing concept in Gunskirchen, Austria. As part of the broader AWARD project, this endeavor involves the testing of a self-driving electric truck that not only operates traffic lights autonomously but also efficiently transports goods between two prominent companies (from ROTAX to DB Schenker plants in Austria). Part of the testing system is an intelligent traffic light solution that allows the vehicle to request traffic stops. The test track is a mixture of country roads with unregulated intersections, side streets, and partially unmarked roads. This testing phase is scheduled to run until September 2023 and is specifically centered around evaluating the capabilities of an automated swap-body truck, a creation of KAMAG, seamlessly integrated with cutting-edge EasyMile driverless technology.
*To find out more, download the press release from February 2023: ´The European project ¨AWARD¨ launches a new autonomous logistics use case in Gunskirchen, Austria´.
The deployment in Gunskirchen is structured into two phases: Phase I focuses on low traffic hours and traffic segregation via connected traffic lights, while Phase II optimizes safety margins and traffic light schedules to reduce congestion. Additionally, testing with teleoperation shifts to a controlled environment at the DigiTrans proving ground to gather data under various weather conditions, ensuring a thorough evaluation of the autonomous system’s capabilities and robustness.
* Be sure to stay connected with us to keep up with the latest developments. We’re committed to bringing you the most current information as we progress through this testing phase. As the testing concludes, we’ll be updating this blog with the final results and an array of captivating photos, giving you an immersive glimpse into the journey we’ve undertaken. Your curiosity is our motivation – so watch this space for the exciting revelations that await at the culmination of our testing endeavour!
The main objective is to showcase the remarkable potential of this automated vehicle in a hub-to-hub logistics scenario. The project aims to support the future of goods transport, especially on short distances, as it is becoming increasingly difficult to find truck drivers. This demonstration is just one piece of the puzzle within the larger AWARD H2020 project, which aims to revolutionize the world of autonomous transportation. The hub-to-hub utilization scenario is among the four meticulously planned use cases within the expansive AWARD H2020 project. These encompass the Forklift, Airport, Port, and, notably, the hub-to-hub use case, each strategically designed to demonstrate the immense potential of autonomous technology in diverse operational settings.
*To read the latest updates on the use case scenarios read the June 2023: Newsletter #5 Revolutionizing logistics with autonomy!
* To read the latest updates on the Airpot use case, download the press release from June 2023 – ´Revolutionary Autonomy in Airport Logistics Unveiled at AWARD H2020 Showcase´
The overarching goal of these unique use cases is to establish the competence of autonomous vehicles across diverse weather conditions. Additionally, the project aims to tackle the challenges associated with deploying these vehicles in actual logistics operations. This is achieved through a series of strategic demonstrations tailored to meet the specific demands of the market, spanning from factory floors to bustling logistics hubs.
At the helm of this use case is the consortium leader, Digitrans, who has enlisted the support of key players including Applied Autonomy, BRP-Rotax, DB Schenker, Kamag, Easymile, AustriaTech, Continental, and LCM. Together, they’re spearheading the Hub-to-hub autonomous logistics use case. This particular endeavour is all about showcasing the potential of autonomous heavy-duty vehicles in extended on-road driving scenarios. Our team of experts invested time in studying the business aspects related to Autonomous Logistics operations. In this pursuit, we greatly valued the inputs received from our stakeholders as we delved into the convergence of logistics, technology, and innovation. This exploration was especially focused on the context of the Hub-to-hub automation: Business Models for Autonomous Logistics – the AWARD Hub-to-hub use-case Survey.
To elevate the capabilities of the KAMAG vehicle, it’s set to receive an upgrade in the form of EasyMile’s Autonomous Vehicle Technology. This upgrade promises to enhance its prowess in traffic simulation, communication, and obstacle detection.
Ensuring utmost safety, the vehicle underwent rigorous testing in varying weather conditions and complex environments. Outfitted with sensors, it guarantees secure road navigation, while its current reduced speed aligns with safety precautions. A safety driver stands ready to intervene if necessary, exemplifying the unwavering commitment to safety. Collaborating with regulatory bodies, industry stakeholders, and partners, the AWARD team drives responsible and secure implementation of this groundbreaking technology, marking a significant stride towards the eventual deployment of autonomous vehicles on public roads.
The Fleet Management System deployed in this use case provides the safety driver with a complete overview of the vehicle operations, as well as its environment. Weather sensors, a road sensor and infrastructure at the Rotax site have been successfully integrated, to make the operations as safe and efficient as possible.
Rebecca Ronke, Chief Operating Officer at Applied Autonomy
Continuously refining the truck, traffic light system, and route planning, efforts are dedicated to enhancing performance. The timeline for realizing autonomous goods transport remains uncertain, given the intricacies of legislation and insurance. The ultimate achievement envisions deploying a fully autonomous vehicle without a safety driver within controlled test confines. Even on public roads in Gunskirchen, a safety driver ensures vigilant caution. Embarking on an autonomous journey from ROTAX to DB Schenker plants in Austria, the KAMAG vehicle is poised for a momentous achievement. Prior to its road venture, the AWARD team meticulously tested its functionality, including obstacle perception and vehicle localization assessments. Rigorous tests aim for a seamless and dependable vehicle operation.
Numerous comprehensive tests at Digitrans’ automated transport test centre in St. Valentin prioritize safety and precision for Gunskirchen’s operation. From full braking to lane changes, the spectrum of manoeuvres executed autonomously is remarkable. Austrian regulations warrant a safety driver onboard, prepared for immediate intervention during emergencies, ensuring a securely managed testing process. Specialized dummies provided by the Humanetics group enriched insights into the vehicle’s performance.
The autonomous vehicle from KAMAG has arrived at our Test centre for automated driving in St. Valentin! It will go through various tests before entering Gunskirchen for the Hub-to-hub shuttle service, to demonstrate an autonomous way of transporting from the warehouse to logistics hubs within the project AWARD-H2020. In this specific case, it will go from the Engine Factory of BRP-Rotax GmbH & Co KG to the Logistic Hub DB Schenker.
DIGITRANS, the hub-to-hub use case leader
These innovative C-ITS traffic lights enable seamless communication between vehicles and infrastructure. Prior to reaching a crossing, the vehicle shares its position and estimated arrival time with the traffic lights. This dynamic system is meticulously designed to bolster road safety. These cutting-edge traffic lights, found between the “Kreuzung Grünbachtalstraße – Kieswerkstraße” and “Kreuzung Blockstraße – Mendelweg” in Gunskirchen, mark their debut in Austria.
Their installation is a pivotal component of the Award Project – a Hub2Hub Transport initiative.
A technical requirement for this test operation is a traffic light system that regulates driving on public roads. For the first time, a so-called C-ITS traffic light will be used in Gunskirchen, which communicates continuously with the vehicle. Upper Austria is once again a pioneer in autonomous transport solutions.
Automobil-Cluster, partner involved in the hub to hub use case
About 600m is the track between DB Schenker and BRP-Rotax and this will now be driven by a self-driving truck from KAMAG. 🚚
To make this possible the C-ITS traffic lights are needed. It makes a bidirectional communication between vehicle and infrastructure possible – for the first time in Austria.
The vehicle is connected to the environment, for example, the weather station or the entrance and exit gates of the two company premises.
DIGITRANS, the hub-to-hub use case leader
As the AWARD autonomous driving system demonstrates its capabilities, the project aspires to play a pivotal role in fostering widespread adoption of this technology in the realm of logistics operations. The road ahead is paved with innovation and promise. AWARD’s autonomous logistics project stands as a beacon of technological advancement, steering us closer to a future where autonomous vehicles revolutionize how we move goods and reshape the landscape of transportation as we know it.
Since June 12, 2023, an automated electric truck has been in real use on a 600-meter-long public transport route in Gunskirchen, Upper Austria, between the two companies DB Schenker and BRP-Rotax GmbH & Co KG. With the real-world use of autonomous driving in public transport, DB Schenker is bringing the mobility of the future into the present. After the completion of the approximately two-year successful test operation with the project partners DB Schenker, BRP-Rotax and the Digitrans test region, autonomous driving on Austria's roads has now been realized.
DB Schenker, partner involved in the hub to hub use case
Thank you for keeping a close eye on our updates! The tests of the use case on public roads are completed. The KAMAG Vehicle comes back to the proving ground for further tests (teleoperating / with, and without an operator).
Be sure to stay connected with us to keep up with the latest developments. We’re committed to bringing you the most current information as we progress through this testing phase. As the testing concludes, we’ll update this blog with the final results and an array of captivating photos, giving you an immersive glimpse into our journey. Your curiosity is our motivation – so watch this space for the exciting revelations that await at the culmination of our testing endeavour!