ATLAS-L4 funding project: self-driving from hub to hub

MAN Truck & Bus, Knorr-Bremse, Leoni and Bosch are joining forces for greater safety, flexibility and efficiency in logistics.

Together with automated logistics provider Fernride and test tool manufacturer BTC Embedded Systems, they aim to have autonomously driving trucks on the highway for the first time by the middle of this decade in the ATLAS-L4 project.

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Technische Universität 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.

Worldwide, trucks are indispensable for transporting goods, but in Germany alone, traffic jams cause billions of euros in economic damage every year, around 90 percent of accidents on the roads are the result of human error, and a lack of drivers is slowing down growth at many companies.

The ATLAS-L4 (Automated Transport between Logistics centres on highways, Level 4) research and development project focuses on the operation of autonomous trucks on public motorways and highways, contributing towards lessening congestion and accidents, reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, increasing the flexibility of vehicle use and demonstrating concepts to counter the driver shortage. At the heart of the holistic approach to the project, with partners from the automotive industry, software development, scientific research and administration, is the development of an autonomous truck that meets the requirements for future driverless operation between logistics nodes, on defined public highways and expressways, in terms of operational safety, remote monitoring and data transmission.

The project, funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, is already specifically targeting the opportunities opened up by the legislation on autonomous driving passed in 2021, in which Germany is set to hold a worldwide pioneering position. ATLAS-L4 therefore contributes towards the shaping the future of road freight transport, but also strengthens Germany as a business location. By the middle of the decade, the project should have produced a concept for the operation of automated trucks on the motorways ready to enter production.