The cooperative venture established in May 2017 will test truck convoys over a period of several months as part of DB Schenker’s scheduled operations in real traffic scenarios on the A9 Autobahn autonomous driving test track between Munich and Nuremberg. This will also be the first time that professional truck drivers will replace test drivers at the wheel. Their experiences, assessments and evaluations of platooning are the focal point of the work at Hochschule Fresenius, which is providing the scientific support for the test drives as the third partner of the cooperative venture.
“We want to find out which impact the new technology has on the drivers. The study focuses on the neurophysiological and psychosocial levels,” explained Prof. Dr. Christian T. Haas, Head of the Institute for Complex Health Research at Hochschule Fresenius. The results of the study at the human-machine interface will be fed back directly into developing the technology.” The scenario also offers the opportunity to make general findings in terms of digitalizing working conditions and would thus serve as a forerunner for other projects.
With the vehicle handover, the preparation of the road tests enter the practical phase. While recent months have been occupied with producing the test vehicles and equipping them with the additional technical components required for deploying platooning, the focus is now on intensive training of the drivers for their tasks in the project and ultimately on facilitating integration with DB Schenker’s logistics operations.
As of April, individual runs of the platoon are planned to take place on the A9. To start with, the trucks will be operating without cargo to investigate driving conditions in the daily flow of traffic, and to train the drivers involved in the project in operating the vehicles. The drivers will receive theoretical and practical training and will practice on a driving simulator.
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 centers in Munich and Nuremberg.