Fully Automated Distribution Truck for Automation Zones

»Automated Driving« as a subject area motivates many stakeholders and has gained great importance within the past years.
Before the first fully automated standard vehicles will be able to drive on public roads, however, many technological challenges will have to be met. Vehicle automation in restricted, non-public areas presents an intermediary step in which automated driving technologies can be implemented, tested and brought to maturity in a slightly less complex environment. This is the point of departure for the AutoTruck project.


The AutoTruck project aims at developing and demonstrating a system for the fully automated operation of commercial vehicles in automation zones (e. g., logistics hubs, shipping yards, dedicated areas within the public road network). Its focus lies on key functionalities such as

  • High-precision locating and navigation,
  • Reliable collision avoidance,
  • Vehicle2infrastructure communication,
  • Real-time maneuver planning, as well as
  • fully automated nearfield navigation.

Based on these key functionalities, a fully automated truck is to be presented in a logistics hub and its adjacent access roads.

The project's main challenges are being able to present a working overall system and exploiting the results. The solutions developed are to allow the vehicles' general approval for roads and be based on sensors, locating systems and communication technology most likely available in future standard vehicles. Due to these framework constraints, the project's aims go far beyond the current state of the art, which is characterized by special-purpose vehicles that drive at extremely low speeds (6 km/h) and are not approved for public roads.


Project term: September 1, 2016 to August 31, 2019 (36 months)

Problem Outline

Currently, trucks in logistics yards are usually moved by drivers or other persons, which requires a large staff. The following main driving tasks are to be carried out:

  1. Shuttling: Vehicles drive back and forth between two or more locations in order to transport goods and products to and from production facilities and/or storage buildings. The locations may be connected by both private and public roads.
  2. Shunting: Vehicles perform shunting maneuvers within the logistics yard in order to deliver or collect goods. Usually, this requires drivers to dock at loading bays in a speedy yet precise manner.

Shuttling and shunting trips on company premises are regarded as driving times/ work hours according to the Council Regulation (EC) no. 561/2006 and the German Driving Personnel Regulation (Fahrpersonalverordnung, FPersV). Complete automation of these driving tasks can bring about significant advantages in terms of the efficiency of − initially company-internal − goods and product transport processes. This means that the driving staff can be scheduled more economically and both driving and break times can be distributed more flexibly. In addition, transport processes can be accelerated significantly and made safer.

Overall Project Aims

The project's objective is to develop a system for the safe and fully automated – that is, driverless – operation of distribution trucks and other commercial vehicles in logistics hubs, as well as in dedicated, spacially restricted areas within the public road network (referred to as automation zones). Fully automated operation is to begin upon entering the automation zone and to end upon leaving the zone. During the time spent in the automation zone, many driving tasks are to be carried out in a complex environment:

  • Transfer of responsibility for the vehicle from the driver to the control tower upon entering the automation zone,
  • Carrying out of transport missions,
    • automatic driving of trajectories including intermediary destinations such as parking positions,
    • automatic docking at loading bays or charging stations,
  • Dynamic adaptation of trajectories according to the automation zone's current obstacle situation,
  • Cooperation with other vehicles,
  • Transfer of responsibility for the vehicle to the driver upon exiting the automation zone.

Within this context, the joint project's core innovation is the development and practical demonstration of a near-series, ready-for-approval distribution truck that automatically executes missions set by a master computer in dedicated automation zones (level 5 of the VDA classification on automated driving).

For this core innovation, the technology readiness level (TRL according to the definitions given by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action BMWK) is to be raised from the current TRL 4 to TRL 6 or 7. To achieve this, the system to be built and demonstrated will consist of a distributor truck (15 to 18 t) equipped with all the necessary sensors as well as locating and communication technology, combined with the helyOS® online control tower that allows to set live missions.


  • Götting KG (consortium coordinator): High-precision locating and implementing a contactless SIL2 safety system for collision prevention
  • Orten Fahrzeugtechnik GmbH: Conversion of the demonstrator vehicle within a time span of only a few months in cooperation with EFA-S Elektrofahrzeuge Stuttgart GmbH 
  • WABCO GmbH: Development of an innovative system for wireless communication between vehicle and infrastructure (V2X)
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Transportation and Infrastructure Systems IVI: Implementation of the autonomous drivinf functions including real-time maneuver planning and a web-based control tower for the automation zone
  • Emons Spedition GmbH: Provider of the logistics yard

Associated Partners

The following partners provided consulting services to the consortium:

  • Deutsche GVZ-Gesellschaft
  • Güterverkehrszentrum Entwicklungsgesellschaft Dresden mbH
  • P&G Service Company NV