Hamburg to become testing ground for driverless lorries

EUR 23 million in EU funds for MODI project
24 October 2022
Bird's eye view of lorries at a service station

The City of Hamburg is to become a testing ground for driverless lorries in 2025 as part of the MODI project, which is being carried out by the Ministry for Transport and Mobility Transition and New Mobility Solutions GmbH with other transport operators in Hamburg. A consortium of 29 companies in science and industry will come together to find such solutions through 2026. The EU is putting EUR 23 million towards the project as part of Horizon Europe. Hopes are now high that MODI could counteract the shortage of lorry drivers, which is proving a headache for about a third of German logistics companies, a 2020 survey by Statista has found, and eventually increase the flow of goods.

Good conditions in Hamburg thanks to ITS strategy

Hamburg is the first test city for driverless lorries in Europe, according to Gruber Logistics which is taking part in the project along with Volvo, DAF and Maersk. Many roads are now digitalised and the infrastructure is well advanced thanks to the ITS Congress 2021. Under the plans, at least two 40-tonne trucks by Volvo and DAF will travel between the port, motorway and industrial area. The test track for automated and connected driving (TAVF) will be used based on the ITS-G5 technology, which was teste during the ITS World Congress in 2021. The test track is to be networked with the port's digital infrastructure as part of the MODI project, according to the ministry. The associated research should be completed by 2026. Plans are also being laid to complete the technical infrastructure for communication between vehicles and the road network.

Focus on technical development and improved logistics chains

Apart from deploying driverless lorries across Hamburg, the vehicles will be tested on motorways between Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Moss in Norway. This will involve crossing four national borders and calling at four ports. Most of the budget has been set aside for the technical development of the vehicles. The EU funding of EUR 23 million covers 80 per cent of the total requirements. The main focus of the project is on improving the logistics chains and not on automating lorry traffic fully, according to Gruber Logistics. Drivers can then concentrate on more complex tasks. 

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