Self-driv­ing trucks now a step closer to hit­ting the high­way

TRUCK­ING FEA­TURE

Business Day - Motor News - - COMMERCIAL NEWS - Mo­tor News Reporter

The prospect of self­de­liv­er­ing loads took a step into the fu­ture when Hyundai Mo­tor Com­pany’s Xcient truck re­cently com­pleted a 40km au­tonomously nav­i­gated high­way jour­ney, the first to take place in South Korea.

The semi-trailer truck, which has a max­i­mum load ca­pac­ity of 40 tons, was semi-equipped with a level 3 au­ton­o­mous driv­ing sys­tem, en­abling it to steer, ac­cel­er­ate or de­cel­er­ate, and ma­noeu­vre through traf­fic with­out hu­man in­put.

“This suc­cess­ful demon­stra­tion proves in­no­va­tive au­ton­o­mous driv­ing tech­nol­ogy can be used to trans­form the trade lo­gis­tics in­dus­try,” said Maik Ziegler, di­rec­tor of Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cle R&D Strat­egy Group at Hyundai Mo­tor Com­pany.

“At this stage, a hu­man driver is still used to con­trol the ve­hi­cle man­u­ally in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions, but I think we will achieve level 4 au­to­ma­tion soon as we are con­stantly up­grad­ing our tech­no­log­i­cal ca­pa­bil­ity.”

Level 3 as de­fined by the So­ci­ety of Au­to­mo­tive En­gi­neers means a ve­hi­cle can make com­plex de­ci­sions but re­quires a hu­man driver to take over in cer­tain cases, for in­stance if the road’s painted lines dis­ap­pear.

With level 4 au­to­ma­tion the ve­hi­cle can han­dle any driv­ing sit­u­a­tion by it­self in most en­vi­ron­ments, even if the hu­man driver doesn’t re­spond to a re­quest to in­ter­vene.

The Xcient truck trip, be­tween Ui­wang and Incheon, took place on Au­gust 21 and was held in co-oper­a­tion with Hyundai Mo­tor’s trade sub­sidiary, Hyundai Glo­vis. The truck stayed within the ex­press­way speed limit of 90km/h through the one-hour jour­ney, along one of South Korea’s busiest freight routes.

Al­though a hu­man driver was on­board to take over man­ual con­trol when re­quired, the ve­hi­cle’s tech­nol­ogy fea­tures en­abled it to main­tain and change lanes dur­ing the nat­u­ral flow of traf­fic, de­tect lane changes made by ve­hi­cles in front of it, nav­i­gate through tun­nels, and per­form a com­plete halt or ac­cel­er­ate ac­cord­ing to road traf­fic.

The semi-trailer truck is about 3.5 times longer, 1.4 times wider and 9.2 times heav­ier than the av­er­age com­pact sedan. This re­quires an ad­vanced and de­tailed au­ton­o­mous nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem. Ac­cord­ingly, Hyundai Mo­tor equipped sen­sors sim­i­lar to the ones fea­tured in au­ton­o­mous cars, and ad­di­tional sen­sors op­ti­mised for heavy­duty trucks, such as a hitch an­gle sen­sor and trailer rear radar sen­sor, mean­ing the truck could be safely sta­bilised on sharp turns.

The data col­lected by each sen­sor is syn­chro­nised with the HD map, which re­lays in­for­ma­tion to the con­trol mod­ule for lo­cal­i­sa­tion. The mod­ule con­trols the speed, steering and brak­ing ac­cord­ingly.

A new steering con­trol sys­tem called MAHS (Mo­tor As­sist Hy­draulic Steering), de­vel­oped by Hyundai Mo­bis, was also im­ple­mented, pro­vid­ing a pre­cise steering mech­a­nism that con­trols the steering an­gle de­pend­ing on the de­ci­sion made by the elec­tronic con­trol unit. This min­imises the ef­fort re­quired to steer the ve­hi­cle, re­duc­ing driver fa­tigue.

“Hyundai Glo­vis’ suc­cess in util­is­ing self-driv­ing trucks as part of its de­liv­ery ser­vice proves that the self-driv­ing tech­nol­ogy is be­ing utilised in ac­tual lo­gis­tics trans­port and can lead to mu­tual de­vel­op­ment,” said Sang-Sok Suh, head of strat­egy and plan­ning group at Hyundai Glo­vis. “The com­pany will be a leader in adopt­ing fu­ture mo­bil­ity tech­nol­ogy such as au­ton­o­mous driv­ing for the trade lo­gis­tics in­dus­try.”

The semi-au­to­mated Xcient was able to drive it­self largely with­out hu­man in­put.

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