The collaboration led by start-up truck builder Hydrogen Vehicle Systems (HVS) has been granted £6.6 million to design and deploy a groundbreaking, world-first, autonomous zero-emission HGV for the UK market.
The Hub2Hub collaboration will develop a self-driving tractor unit, with UK supermarket ASDA acting as key partner to serve end-user demands. It is believed the cost reductions provided by an autonomous truck would accelerate the freight sector’s adoption of zero-emission vehicles.
The Centre for Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) has chosen the £12 million venture as a recipient for its joint industry and government-funded project with the goal of demonstrating the potential of autonomy in the transportation sector with unprecedented levels of efficiency, safety, and operational cost savings for logistics operators.
HVS will receive £3.4 million as part of the CCAV and Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) funds announced today.
The collaboration, comprised of HVS, Fusion Processing and ASDA, will construct two prototype vehicles capable of Level 4 autonomous driving. The first hydrogen-electric HGV prototype will be outfitted with a driver’s cab and tested on the road in autonomous mode, with a human safety driver at the wheel, utilising Fusion Processing’s Automated Drive System, CAVStar®.
The driver’s cab will be removed from the second prototype and replaced by an aerodynamic fairing. This vehicle will be assessed on test tracks throughout the project, with the CAVStar technology in this application allowing a remote human driver stationed in a control hub to run the vehicle.
Fusion’s participation in the project will see the development and integration of its advanced CAVstar system, which uses a fusion of vision systems, AI, and route planning to deliver a fully autonomous vehicle that takes over from a human driver and returns control at predetermined hubs along a route.
“A transport revolution is taking place in the UK and HVS, together with the consortium, is at the forefront of the innovation. We are engineering the world’s first autonomous hydrogen-electric powered HGV to demonstrate hub-to-hub logistics to a leading retailer, ASDA, to elevate public perception, showcasing the potential autonomy can deliver thanks to increased safety and fuel savings, and develop new business models.” commented HVS CEO Jawad Khursheed.
Fusion Processing CEO Jim Hutchinson said, “Our market analysis indicates that the commercial vehicle segments such as haulage are where we will see autonomous vehicle technology first used in large scale deployments. Hub2Hub is a perfect showcase of what the advanced version of our CAVstar Automated Drive System can achieve. Combining SAE Level 4 autonomous driving with tele-operation to deliver safer and more efficient vehicle operations.”
“Reducing our fleet emissions is a major part of our plan of moving towards net zero, so we are keen to look at innovative new technology, such as autonomous HGV tractor units, which can make a real difference to our carbon footprint. We will continue to work with like-minded partners on projects such as this to reduce our impact on the environment.” noted ASDA Senior Fleet Manager Sean Clifton.
Autonomous, self-driving vehicles deliver exceptional operational safety without human involvement due to the integration of cutting-edge sensor technology within the vehicle, which includes an array of radars, LIDARs, cameras, and Artificial Intelligence.