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Hans Nordin spent twenty years in the telecom industry before joining Sweden’s Scania, where he has participated in several research projects like Sweden4Platooning and the EU’s Ensemble. He is also responsible for the Hub2Hub project to test self-driving trucks on a motorway in Sweden.

The test will occur in collaboration with TuSimple. Since its foundation in 2015, the San Diego-based company has carried out millions of kilometres of tests on motorways to develop the self-driving technology for automation level 4.

In this week’s Mobility Moments, we talk to Scania’s Nordin about the transport industry’s shift to autonomous driving and the testing of platooning technology. “It’s a journey that I would like to be part of,” he tells us.

Describe the Hub2Hub project

In the Hub2Hub project the goal is to start testing of autonomous truck technology as part of a commercial flow of goods. Within Scania we are lucky to have our own commercial flow transported by Scania Transportlaboratorium AB (STL), which gives us this opportunity inside Scania. We will start with one truck operating on the route doing daily runs and in the first phase it will run autonomously only on the highway part.

In the second phase we will add the road accessing and leaving the motorway and also additional trucks.

The trucks are equipped with sensors like RTK GPS, radar, cameras and lidars to detect the surrounding environment. This, in combination with a detailed map and a compute server, performs the driving and control of the vehicle. In the truck we will have one specially trained experienced driver from STL and one test engineer overlooking the system at all times. 

Why choose TuSimple as a partner?

TuSimple have proven that they have come far in this area by driving on public motorways in the U.S. and in China and they are a good fit for this pilot. They also have expertise in many areas complimenting strong Scania competence areas. We see that the company cultures complement each other – on one hand the lightning fast start-up mentality and on the other hand the stability from a world class truck manufacturer like Scania.

Additionally, some shared views around the business going forward makes the fit even better. Together we have a lot of fun things to work on. 

How safe will the Swedish pilot be?

Safety is the number one priority for Scania and so also in the Hub2Hub project. The safety concepts takes many different aspects into account, from defensive driving, limiting the autonomous system to what it can do, diagnostics in the systems, specially trained driver/test engineers, road conditions and more.

With all these aspects covered, we consider this test to be safe and no increased risk for other road users.

What is holding back the development of driverless technology in Europe?

I would say that there are lots of activities within EU to prepare Europe for the leap to driverless vehicles, also within the different countries in Europe things are moving forward. Our cooperation with the Swedish road authorities has been very good and we have come up with technical solutions too, in spite of the pandemic, to achieve the approval performing an online drive up. But we still see more aggressive plans in the U.S. and in China. 

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What is truck platooning and describe the benefits?

Here I think we can use the definition agreed in Ensemble, ‘The linking of two or more trucks in convoy, using connectivity technology and automated driving support systems’. There are different levels of platooning and they have different benefits, but general benefits may be safety based on the communication between the trucks, traffic flow impacts and possible fuel savings depending in the distance between the trucks.

In the most advanced level there may also be a truck without a driver in a follower vehicle.

What will road transportation look like by 2030?

By 2030 we will probably have a number of dedicated routes where autonomous trucks transport goods, and some of them will be electric. And this will be in different regions around the world.

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