MAN, has become the first commercial vehicle manufacturer to send an autonomous truck onto the German motorway. On board the test truck, which drove around ten kilometres on the A9 between the Allershausen and Fürholzen junctions, were Federal Transport Minister Dr Volker Wissing and MAN CEO Alexander Vlaskamp.

After the first public drive of an autonomous truck on the highway: (from left to right) Dirk Brandenburger, Technical Managing Director of Autobahn GmbH des Bundes, Dr Volker Wissing, German Federal Minister for Digital Affairs and Transport, Alexander Vlaskamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of MAN Truck & Bus and Dr Frederik Zohm, Executive Board Member for Research & Development at MAN Truck & Bus.

MAN has been intensively driving forward the development of autonomous trucks for use in logistics hubs and hub-to-hub traffic on motorways for some time and recently became the first commercial vehicle manufacturer to receive a Level 4 test permit based on the law on autonomous driving on German motorways.

Freight volumes and, in particular, transport between logistics hubs – such as the warehouses of large online department stores – are growing steadily. The use of autonomous trucks in this so-called hub-to-hub transport is particularly suitable for this. The trucks are always on the road, extremely efficient in terms of consumption and safe to drive. There are no driving time breaks, so the vehicles can be perfectly integrated into tightly synchronised logistics processes. In the long term, the efficient use of autonomous trucks can reduce overall operating costs by ten to 15 per cent. The new technology can also alleviate the driver shortage. There is already a shortage of up to 100,000 truck drivers in Germany alone.

“The first Level 4 test drive of an autonomous truck on a German motorway proves that Germany has taken a leading position in Europe with the law on autonomous driving. Our goal is to become the leading market for automated and connected driving. Today is a milestone for logistics in Germany. The ever-increasing volume of transport, coupled with the worsening shortage of drivers, is a challenge for society as a whole.

Autonomous trucks can help to alleviate the situation. In addition, the intelligent networking of freight transport offers the opportunity to make transhipment from road to rail more efficient and thus strengthen climate-friendly combined transport”, says Dr Volker Wissing, Federal Minister for Digital Affairs and Transport.

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