ATLAS-L4 is a funding project, shared by several partners, aimed at having autonomous trucks on the road by the middle of this decade. MAN Truck & Bus, Knorr-Bremse, Leoni and Bosch are joining forces together with automated logistics provider Fernride and test tool manufacturer BTC Embedded Systems. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Technical University of Braunschweig are providing scientific support for the project, while TÜV SÜD and Autobahn GmbH are contributing their expertise with regard to practical feasibility and the approval process.
The ATLAS-L4 shared project
ATLAS-L4 stands for Automated Transport between Logistics centres on highways, Level 4. The project intends to demonstrate that the use of Level-4 automated and thus driverless vehicles on the highway is feasible, laying the foundation for innovative transport and logistics concepts. The project makes direct use of the new opportunities opened up by the legislation on autonomous driving passed in 2021, in which Germany is set to hold a worldwide pioneering position. In this way, ATLAS-L4 contributes both to the future-proof design of road freight transport and to strengthening Germany as a business location.
The German project has the main target to use autonomous driving between logistics hubs on the motorway to make an effective contribution towards the avoidance of congestion and accidents, to operate vehicles with greater fuel efficiency and to counteract the shortfall of drivers by eliminating the less attractive driving tasks. All over the world, indeed, the truck industry is facing unprecedented lack of drivers: this trend might have serious consequences of the transport of goods all over Europe, at least. The BGL (German Freight and Logistics Association) reports that there is a shortage of around 60,000 professional freight drivers in Germany today. Although around 17,000 new drivers join the profession each year, around 30,000 professional drivers retire, with the result that the problem will worsen significantly.
Why autonomous trucks can represent a solution
As stated, for instance, by the TRATON Group (to which MAN Truck & Bus belongs), self-driving trucks can provide a solution. They can certainly improve road safety, reduce congestion with forward planning and optimise operating hours. At the same time, self-driving trucks drive more evenly, making them more fuel-efficient and therefore more environmentally friendly.
Within the project, MAN Truck & Bus is responsible for overall system development and the integration of all components into the vehicle. The transmission of data to the vehicle and commissioning of the control centre that will provide the technical monitoring of the test runs as specified in the legislation on self-driving vehicles are also MAN’s responsibility.