Trials of the UK’s first zero-emission automated logistics HGV have begun at Vantec in Sunderland as part of the 5G Connected and Automated Logistics (CAL) project.
Earlier this year specialist vehicle manufacturer Terberg helped to convert an electric yard tractor to feature 5G connectivity.
Terberg’s HGV is now on site at Vantec in the North East and has been equipped with autonomous and teleoperation technology, ready for the trials to commence, with the first tests having already started at Nissan’s test track in mid-March.
The trials are part of the 5G Create Competition, which combines British creativity with innovative new uses for 5G as part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s £200 million 5G Testbeds and Trials programme (5GTT).
The Terberg YT202 electric yard tractor uses next generation technology connected to a private 5G network. The system allows remote teleoperations to inform the driver to switch from autonomous operation to remote driver controls to overcome any unexpected obstacles.
To maintain a high level of safety, the 5G CAL team has embraced opportunities with project partner StreetDrone, who has added a series of drive by wire components such as live sensors and cameras (LiDAR) on the vehicles roof.
When combined with the LiDAR and cameras installed along the route it provides the truck with an extended field of view, improving its ability to react to changes in the road.
Testing will continue at Nissan’s test track where the self-driving abilities will be further analysed before full trials commence on live routes in late May.
The 5G CAL pilot is a proof of concept to prove that an autonomous vehicle can be automated to drive between Vantec and Nissan. 5G CAL says that the project is a “natural evolution of the automated logistics journey that Nissan embarked upon 15 years ago to revolutionise the auto guided vehicles market (AGVs)”.
"The 5G technology being trialled in Sunderland could be crucial to boosting the UK's productivity and reducing emissions, so I'm thrilled the government has been instrumental in making this project a reality,” said digital infrastructure minister Julia Lopez.
"We've funded dozens of cutting-edge trials like this across the country to ensure we unleash the true potential of 5G to level up our economy and improve people's lives."
Vantec boss Martin Kendall said: “This is a significant step towards an autonomous supply chain on a much larger scale.”
“As test trials continue, we would be looking at the vehicles dealing safely with bridges, traffic lights, roundabouts and security gates – all of which you would see on a typical real-life road journey. All the while, we are accelerating the development of autonomous software for the wider industry.”