Real world platooning truck trial on autobahns

Real world platooning truck trials are to take place using DB Schenker on the A9 autobahn in Germany.

Truck manufacturer MAN has handed over a number of test vehicles to trucking company DB Schenker and the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences to test platooning in daily logistics operations.

The venture was put into motion in May last year, and is testing truck convoys over several months as part of DB Schenker’s normal operations in real world situations on the A9 autobahn between Munich and Nuremburg.

The pilot will be the first time that truck drivers – as opposed to professional test drivers – have run platooning trucks at DB Schenker.

Initially from April, there will be individual runs of the platoon on the autobahn. The trucks will carry no cargo and will explore driving conditions in normal traffic flows and to train the drivers in the system. They will also receive intensive theoretical and practical training from MAN and will practice in a simulator.

Drivers’ experiences, assessments and evaluations will be core to the work.

MAN board member Dr Frederik Zohm said: “We have already proved that platooning technology works in various predecessor projects, such as the European Truck Platooning Challenge in 2016. Adapting this technology to the real every day conditions of the logistics sector is the challenge we are now tackling.”

DB Schenker’s chief operating officer Ewald Kaiser said: “Autonomous and networked driving will fundamentally change road haulage. This project will focus on testing platooning for the first time in daily logistics operations. So we’re excited that we can now integrate the vehicles into the operational test runs.”

After the driver training phase is completes, this will turn into weekly and daily test runs in DB Schenker trucks. Later in the year platooning trucks will carry cargo, and then this will move to three times daily cargo transport up and down the A9.

Once the intensive training phase has been completed, there will be weekly, and then daily test runs. These will be extended to include regular operations with actual cargo during the course of 2018. The platoons will then be deployed up to three times daily between DB Schenker logistics centres in Munich and Nuremberg.