First self-driving trucks on European motorway

First self-driving trucks on European motorway

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

The self-driving service, with the permission by the Swedish Transport Agency, is in collaboration with TuSimple, a key partner in Scania’s and TRATON group’s investment in Level4 autonomous vehicles. 

The trucks will enter commercial service with the Scania Transport Laboratory and will be loaded with goods for Scania’s production operations. The system will cover technology according to level 4 on the 5-point SAE scale for self-driving vehicles, which means that the trucks are driven autonomously but for safety reasons are supervised by a driver. An engineer will also be on board during to monitor and verify the information which is transmitted to the truck from the sensors that enable autonomous driving. 

“In both the US and China, tests are already underway of trucks according to Level 4 on public roads, but as far as I know Scania is the first in Europe to test the technology on a motorway and with payload,” says Hans Nordin, who is responsible for the Hub2hub project.

Later this year, Scania plans to expand the tests to cover the entire route between Södertälje and Helsingborg. “In the coming years, we also expect to be able to test the technology in other European countries and in China,” said Nordin.

Scania has been testing self-driving trucks for mining transportation in Australia since 2017. Truck maker Daimler was testing self-driving trucks on a German motorway back in 2015.

“The experience gained from these tests shows that autonomous vehicles can become a reality in just a few years for transportation in closed areas such as mines and terminals,” says Nordin. 

This Hub2hub transportation – driving on the motorway between reloading centres – is the first kind of transportation on public roads. Other schemes have run shuttles and delivery vehicles.

Next: self-driving trucks across Europe

“We have come so far in the development of self-driving vehicles that the technology may be ready to be introduced to the market already within the next five years for this type of transportation. However, it will take longer before autonomous vehicles for driving on roads with two-way traffic and in urban environments becomes a reality,” added Nordin.

Scania’s partner TuSimple – with its headquarters in San Diego, US, and with facilities in Tucson, Shanghai and Beijing – has carried out millions of kilometres of tests on motorways to develop the self-driving technology for automation level 4.

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