Platooning in a practical test: DB Schenker receives pilot vehicles from MAN

Platooning is one of the trend themes of logistics. For the first time, DB Schenker, MAN Truck & Bus and the Hochschule Fresenius are putting the technology on the road in a practical test. DB Schenker received the test trucks from MAN at its headquarters in Munich in the middle of the week.

Platooning as game-changer

Platooning on the A9 freeway: Driver assistance systems are becoming increasingly independent in their actions | logistik aktuell

The latest driver assistance systems are revolutionizing road traffic and substantially reducing the number of serious accidents.

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Ewald Kaiser, Chief Operating Officer, traveled from Essen to Munich just to receive the key. At a meeting with Dr. Frederik Zohm, Member of the Board of Management Research and Development MAN Truck & Bus AG, he emphasized the importance of platooning and cooperation: “Autonomous and networked driving will fundamentally change the road freight traffic. With this project we are testing Platooning for the first time in everyday logistics. We are therefore pleased that we can now operationally integrate the vehicles into the test runs.”

Dr. Frederik Zohm commented from the truck manufacturer’s point of view: “We have already proven that platooning works technically in various predecessor projects, such as in 2016 in the European Truck Platooning Challenge. Adapting this technology to the real day-to-day conditions of logistics is the challenge we are tackling now.”

Framework and objectives of the joint testing

The cooperation, which was closed in May last year, provides for test drives under real conditions of regular operation. The test route will be the A9 between Munich and Nuremberg.

For the first time professional drivers will sit behind the wheel of the trucks instead of test drivers. Their reports and assessments of the technology are at the center of the scientific work of the third cooperation partner, the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences. “We want to find out what effect the new technology will have on drivers. The focus of the study is on the neurophysiological and psychosocial level, “explains Prof. Christian T. Haas, Director of the Institute for Complex Health Research at the University of Fresenius. “The results of the investigation at the man-machine interface will influence directly the technology development.”

In addition, the researchers have another interest. They hope to gain insights into the digitization of drivers’ working conditions. These could be useful for upcoming projects.

“#Platooning practical test: For the first time, @ManTruckandBus, DB Schenker und @HS_Fresenius are testing networked driving in everyday logistics.‬‬‬“

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Next Steps: Preparation of the drivers and procedures

After DB Schenker has received the vehicles, the focus in now on preliminary work for the tests. First of all, the selected drivers need to be prepared and get to know their tasks. In addition, DB Schenker organizes how the test drives can be integrated into the day-to-day processes.

Starting in April, there are already isolated rides of the platoon on the A9. But the trucks still run without cargo, first to investigate the driving conditions in the everyday traffic flow and to train the drivers involved in the operation of the vehicles. The drivers are intensively instructed theoretically and practically by the specialists of MAN ProfiDrive. Also they will have practiced in a driving simulator. The Fresenius University will accompany the drivers and document their experiences.

Up to three test drives per day

After intensive training, the first test drives begin – initially without freight. Later this year, these will be extended to scheduled services with real cargo. It is planned that the platoons will run between the DB Schenker locations in Munich and Nuremberg up to three times a day. logistik aktuell stays tuned and will continue to inform you.