AWARD´s Hub-to-Hub Use Case Testing

Toulouse, France - 4 September 2023
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The AWARD H2020 initiative achieved a significant milestone by unveiling an innovative autonomous logistics hub-to-hub testing concept in Gunskirchen, Austria. As part of the broader AWARD project, this endeavor involves the testing of a driverless electric truck that not only operates traffic lights autonomously but also efficiently transports goods between two prominent companies (from ROTAX to DB Schenker plants in Austria). Part of the testing system is an intelligent traffic light solution that allows the vehicle to request traffic stops. The test track is a mixture of country roads with unregulated intersections, side streets, and partially unmarked roads. This testing phase is scheduled to run until September 2023 and is specifically centered around evaluating the capabilities of an automated swap-body truck, a creation of KAMAG, seamlessly integrated with cutting-edge EasyMile driverless technology
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AWARD´s Hub-to-Hub Use Case Testing

Showcasing Autonomous Potential: The Hub-to-Hub Logistics Scenario

The main objective is to showcase the remarkable potential of this automated vehicle in a hub-to-hub logistics scenario. The project aims to support the future of goods transport, especially on short distances, as it is becoming increasingly difficult to find truck drivers. This demonstration is just one piece of the puzzle within the larger AWARD H2020 project, which aims to revolutionize the world of autonomous transportation. The hub-to-hub utilization scenario is among the four meticulously planned use cases within the expansive AWARD H2020 project. These encompass the Warehouse, Airport, Port, and, notably, the hub-to-hub use case, each strategically designed to demonstrate the immense potential of autonomous technology in diverse operational settings. 

Navigating Challenges: AWARD's Project Objectives

The overarching goal of these unique use cases is to establish the competence of autonomous vehicles across diverse weather conditions. Additionally, the project aims to tackle the challenges associated with deploying these vehicles in actual logistics operations. This is achieved through a series of strategic demonstrations tailored to meet the specific demands of the market, spanning from factory floors to bustling logistics hubs.

Collaborative Leadership: Consortium and Partners

At the helm of this use case is the consortium leader, Digitrans, who has enlisted the support of key players including Applied Autonomy, BRP-Rotax, DB Schenker, Kamag, Easymile, AustriaTech, Continental, and LCM. Together, they’re spearheading the Hub-to-hub autonomous logistics use case. This particular endeavor is all about showcasing the potential of autonomous heavy-duty vehicles in extended on-road driving scenarios.

Enhancing Capabilities: The Role of EasyMile's Technology

To elevate the capabilities of the KAMAG vehicle, it’s set to receive an upgrade in the form of EasyMile’s Autonomous Vehicle Technology. This upgrade promises to enhance its prowess in traffic simulation, communication, and obstacle detection. 

Safety First: A Pioneering Drive

Ensuring utmost safety, the vehicle underwent rigorous testing in varying weather conditions and complex environments. Outfitted with sensors, it guarantees secure road navigation, while its current reduced speed aligns with safety precautions. A safety driver stands ready to intervene if necessary, exemplifying the unwavering commitment to safety. Collaborating with regulatory bodies, industry stakeholders, and partners, the AWARD team drives responsible and secure implementation of this groundbreaking technology, marking a significant stride towards the eventual deployment of autonomous vehicles on public roads.

We are driving at a maximum of 15 to 20 km/h on the road. The solutions are so safe that we don't endanger anyone.

Alexander Barth
CEO of Digitrans

The Fleet Management System deployed in this use case provides the safety driver with a complete overview of the vehicle operations, as well as its environment. Weather sensors, a road sensor and infrastructure at the Rotax site have been successfully integrated, to make the operations as safe and efficient as possible.

Rebecca Ronke
Chief Operating Officer at Applied Autonomy

Continuously refining the truck, traffic light system, and route planning, efforts are dedicated to enhancing performance. The timeline for realizing autonomous goods transport remains uncertain, given the intricacies of legislation and insurance. The ultimate achievement envisions deploying a fully autonomous vehicle without a safety driver within controlled test confines. Even on public roads in Gunskirchen, a safety driver ensures vigilant caution. Embarking on an autonomous journey from ROTAX to DB Schenker plants in Austria, the KAMAG vehicle is poised for a momentous achievement. Prior to its road venture, the AWARD team meticulously tested its functionality, including obstacle perception and vehicle localization assessments. Rigorous tests aim for a seamless and dependable vehicle operation.

Numerous comprehensive tests at Digitrans’ automated transport test center in St. Valentin prioritize safety and precision for Gunskirchen’s operation. From full braking to lane changes, the spectrum of maneuvers executed autonomously is remarkable. Austrian regulations warrant a safety driver onboard, prepared for immediate intervention during emergencies, ensuring a securely managed testing process. Specialized dummies provided by Humanetics enriched insights into the vehicle’s performance.

The autonomous vehicle from KAMAG has arrived at our Test centre for automated driving in St. Valentin! It will go through various tests before entering Gunskirchen for the Hub-to-hub shuttle service,  to demonstrate an autonomous way of transporting from the warehouse to logistics hubs within the project AWARD-H2020. In this specific case, it will go from the Engine Factory of BRP-Rotax GmbH & Co KG to the Logistic Hub DB Schenker.

Hub-to-hub use case leader

Austria's First Truly Intelligent Traffic Light Solution:


🚦 C-ITS Traffic Lights: Enhancing Interactive Traffic Support 🚦

These innovative C-ITS traffic lights enable seamless communication between vehicles and infrastructure. Prior to reaching a crossing, the vehicle shares its position and estimated arrival time with the traffic lights. This dynamic system is meticulously designed to bolster road safety. These cutting-edge traffic lights, found between the “Kreuzung Grünbachtalstraße – Kieswerkstraße'' and “Kreuzung Blockstraße – Mendelweg” in Gunskirchen, mark their debut in Austria.

Their installation is a pivotal component of the Award Project – a Hub2Hub Transport initiative.

A technical requirement for this test operation is a traffic light system that regulates driving on public roads. For the first time, a so-called C-ITS traffic light will be used in Gunskirchen, which communicates continuously with the vehicle. Upper Austria is once again a pioneer in autonomous transport solutions.

Partner involved in the hub to hub use case

Green Light from the C-ITS Lights for the self-driving truck in Gunskirchen! 🚦 👏

About 600m is the track between DB Schenker and BRP-Rotax and this will now be driven by a self-driving truck from KAMAG. 🚚
To make this possible the C-ITS traffic lights are needed. It makes a bidirectional communication between vehicle and infrastructure possible – for the first time in Austria.

The vehicle is connected to the environment, for example, the weather station or the entrance and exit gates of the two company premises.

Hub-to-hub use case leader

Driving Progress: AWARD's Vision

As the AWARD autonomous driving system demonstrates its capabilities, the project aspires to play a pivotal role in fostering widespread adoption of this technology in the realm of logistics operations. The road ahead is paved with innovation and promise. AWARD’s autonomous logistics project stands as a beacon of technological advancement, steering us closer to a future where autonomous vehicles revolutionize how we move goods and reshape the landscape of transportation as we know it.

Highlight: two significant hurdles have emerged, demanding innovative solutions

The BRP-Rotax GmbH & Co KG plant and the DB Schenker logistics site in Gunskirchen are separated by a mere 600 meters. While this distance might seem short for a truck, it transforms into a considerable journey when that same truck is expected to navigate the route autonomously. Since 2021, an ongoing study has been dedicated to exploring automated hub-to-hub transportation, generously backed by the financial support of the European Union. Spearheading this effort is DigiTrans GmbH, serving as the test coordinator. Amidst this exploration, two significant hurdles have emerged, demanding innovative solutions:

1. Firstly, the autonomous transport system must demonstrate unwavering reliability even under adverse weather conditions, encompassing challenges such as rain or snow. These conditions put the sensors of the vehicles to the ultimate test, highlighting the need for robust technology.

2. Secondly, the chosen route necessitates traversing a public road. This not only underlines the complexity of navigating within the realms of daily traffic but also reinforces the importance of establishing an autonomous system that is not just efficient but also seamlessly integrates with existing transportation infrastructure.

Since June 12, 2023, an automated electric truck has been in real use on a 600-meter-long public transport route in Gunskirchen, Upper Austria, between the two companies DB Schenker and BRP-Rotax GmbH & Co KG. With the real-world use of autonomous driving in public transport, DB Schenker is bringing the mobility of the future into the present. After the completion of the approximately two-year successful test operation with the project partners DB Schenker, BRP-Rotax and the Digitrans test region, autonomous driving on Austria's roads has now been realized.

DB Schenker
Partner involved in the hub to hub use case

Originally posted on: AWARD-h2020