Fusion Processing, a leader in automated drive systems, is part of a consortium which has been awarded £6.6 million to develop and deliver a revolutionary, world-first, autonomous zero-emission HGV for the UK market.
Accelerating towards the next generation of transportation and logistics, the Hub2Hub consortium will create a self-driving heavy goods tractor unit, which will begin road trials in 2024, with major UK retailer, ASDA, overlooking the vehicle development as strategic partners.
The £12 million venture has been selected by the Centre for Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) as one of seven recipients for its joint industry and government-funding. The Hub2Hub will showcase the potential of autonomy in the transportation sector with unprecedented levels of efficiency, safety and operational cost savings for logistics operators, as well as providing new employment opportunities.
The consortium, led by HVS, includes Fusion Processing Ltd, and ASDA, will build two prototype vehicles The first hydrogen-electric HGV prototype will be fitted with a driver’s cab and tested on the road in autonomous operation, using the Fusion Processing Ltd’s Automated Drive System, CAVStar®, with a human safety driver at the wheel.
The second prototype will have the driver’s cab removed and replaced by an aerodynamic fairing. During the project this vehicle will be evaluated on test tracks, with the CAVStar system in this application allowing a remote human driver, located in a control hub, to operate the vehicle.
Together these two prototypes point to an optimised future logistics system where vehicles could be operated in autonomous mode on a hub-to-hub route, with a remote driver then taking control to drive the vehicle from the hub to its end destination.
Not only will HVS’ innovative HGV decarbonise one of the biggest polluting vehicle sectors on the road, it will expedite the development of Hub-to-Hub automated driving technology. As a UK leader in autonomous vehicles, Fusion’s collaboration in the project will see the development and integration of its advanced CAVstar system where a combination of vision systems, AI and route planning can deliver a fully autonomous vehicle that takes over from a human driver and hands back control at pre-determined hubs on a route.
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.”
HVS CEO Jawad Khursheed added: “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.”
ASDA Senior Fleet Manager Sean Clifton said: “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.”
Autonomous, self-driving vehicles have the potential to revolutionise haulage and logistics sectors, particularly the long-haul, heavy-duty goods vehicle market.
Through the integration of ground-breaking sensor technology within the vehicle consisting of an array of radars, LIDARs, cameras, and Artificial Intelligence, it provides unprecedented operational safety without human intervention.