Driverless Trucks for Logistics in China

| Transport

Autonomous HGVs could leave the port environment and take to the open road

Technology partnership accelerates China’s ambitions for national high speed autonomous logistics

Chinese logistics experts at Beijing Trunk Technology (Trunk Tech) have recently struck a partnership deal Velodyne Lidar in a bid to be at the forefront of developing next-generation autonomous heavy goods vehicles and to accelerate commercialisation of driverless trucks in China’s logistics market.

Velodyne and Trunk Tech will cooperate on lidar-enabled products that meet the demanding requirements of high-speed transport logistics. These sensor based systems will strengthen object awareness and detection capabilities of unmanned heavy trucks and are designed to promote rapid, large-scale vehicle production in a cost-effective, efficient way. Trunk Tech has close cooperation with commercial vehicle OEMs to produce driverless trucks and ensure the vehicles comply with vehicle safety regulations.

Trunk Tech is the first company in China to independently develop SAE Level 4 driverless trucks, based on its own powerful driverless hardware and software systems. It uses Velodyne’s lidar, including Ultra Puck, Puck and Velarray H800 sensors, as core sensor hardware in its autonomous vehicles. Trunk Tech selected Velodyne due to sensor quality, performance and mass production capacity.

According to Trunk Tech’s CEO, Dr Zhang TianLei, autonomous heavy commercial vehicles can overcome gaps in the workforce, save fuel costs and enhance logistics, as well as improve transport safety and help reduce accident rates involving heavy goods vehicles.

“Velodyne sensors, combined with our multi-sensor fusion algorithms, enable trucks to achieve high-precision, long-range real-time sensing to support autonomous driving in complex road environments. Velodyne has the expertise and manufacturing scale to help us transform trucking and our companies share a strong focus on vehicle safety,” says TianLei.

Anand Gopalan of Velodyne Lidar added that Trunk Tech is taking an innovative role in China’s logistics industry by demonstrating how autonomous vehicle technology, powered by lidar, is bringing major efficiency and safety advances to trucking.

“We look forward to working closely with Trunk Tech on creating next-generation autonomous driving products that dramatically improve how goods and materials move in logistics networks,” he says.

Experience in Autonomous Trucking

During the last few years, Trunk Tech has deployed Velodyne lidar sensors on dozens of driverless trucks that have been delivered to commercial customers. Currently, these vehicles are operating autonomously at ports in China every day around the clock to support logistics operations in a contained environment.

Since winning China’s first commercial road test licence in 2018, Trunk Tech driverless trucks have carried out a large number of practical road tests on China’s roadways. It completed the country’s first high-speed test for fully autonomous driving. In 2019, Trunk Tech won key national research and development programme projects, becoming the first driverless technology company to receive right-of-way support.

Trunk Tech is actively building a broad intelligent logistics network to support autonomous trucking in China. The network includes Trunk Tech and Bosch Group at the driverless truck terminal. It also includes strategic partners in the form of China Heavy Automobile, Uberco, Ulse Automotive and Geely Commercial Vehicles for collaboration to promote mass production.

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