The 29-partner strong consortium that makes up the “All Weather Autonomous Real logistics operations and Demonstrations” (AWARD) project came together online January 15th to kick-start the project.
The project received a funding grant of nearly €20 million by the European Commission under the programme Horizon 2020 to develop and demonstrate driverless heavy-duty vehicles in harsh weather conditions for real-logistics operations. It includes 10 works packages and covers a range of applications. After an overview by coordinator EasyMile, each work package leader presented their plan and mapped out next steps in the virtual meet-up.
Connected and automated driving systems for commercial vehicles have a great potential. They can improve safety and efficiency of freight transport (emissions/freight ratio, fuel consumption, road occupancy, vehicle utilization, capacity of transport network both in confined areas and in mixed traffic (hub-to-hub) and make logistics operations more competitive. Significant progress has been made in the field of autonomous truck driving with numerous prototypes. However, there is still a gap to fill in order to ensure the uptake of this breakthrough technology and the future advent of an overall autonomous logistic chain. The current inabilities autonomous heavy-duty vehicles to work with the right safety and functional level for 24/7 availability (e.g. harsh weather conditions) hinder their deployment, along with the lack of a harmonized regulatory framework.
Against this background, AWARD will develop and enable a safe autonomous transportation system in a wide range of real-life use cases in a variety of different scenarios. This encompasses the development of autonomous driving system (ADS) capable of handling adverse environmental conditions such as heavy rain, snowfall, fog. The ADS solution will be based on multiple sensor modalities to address 24/7 availability. The ADS will then be integrated into multiple vehicle types used in low-speed areas.
Finally, these vehicles will be deployed, integrated and operated in a variety of real-life use cases to validate their value in the application and identify any limitations: forklift (un)loading in warehouses and industrial plants, hub-to-hub shuttle service on open road, automated baggage dispatching in airports, container transfer operations and vessel loading in ports.
Logistics operations will be optimized thanks to a new fleet management system that will act as a control tower, gathering all information from subsystems (vehicles, road sensors, etc.) to coordinate the operations and protect vulnerable road users. This work should then enable commercial exploitation of the technology and policy recommendations for certifications processes.
The members, from 12 different countries, will work together for the next three years. They are leading companies and innovative, growing ones recognized for their real-world applications and expertise, as well as research organisations. This maturity and mix paves the way for the replicability and sustainability of project results.