Nippon Express trials autonomous trucks

Nippon trials autonomous trucks

Nippon Express, Hokuren Agriculture Cooperative and UD Trucks, have demonstrated the use of autonomous driving technology in the handling of farm produce at an agriculture processing facilitiy in Hokkaido, Japan, in an initiative that could help address a shortage of truck drivers as the country’s workforce contracts.

The trial programme began on August 5, and is set to conclude at the end of the month., It has demonstrated how produce can be moved through the processing centre.

A specially adapted L4 heavy-duty Quon vehicle from UD Trucks operated on a typical delivery route from the entrance to the produce acceptance area, interim storage and the final unloading area at an average speed of 20 km/h. The route included a distance of 200m on a public road (National Route 334). The Quon vehicle has employed Network-based RTK-GPS (Real Time Kinematic Global Positioning System), an advanced version of GPS, that allows for a high localisation accuracy. By combining Network-RTK with autonomous driving technology, it is possible to achieve higher precision in vehicle operation even in bad weather or on poor road conditions. The systems were put to the test under conditions that replicate an actual operating environment and thereby show the feasibility for real-world applications.

Nippon Express has been active in trialling and using many technologies including, truck platooning using automated driving technology, unmanned logistics centres, artificial intelligence (AI), drones and advanced tracking systems.

The shortage of truck drivers poses a great risk to the stable supply, of not only sugar beets, but also broader agricultural and livestock products produced in Hokkaido, of which 3.5m tonnes are shipped outside the region every year. Securing a stable transportation network connecting Hokkaido and other destinations is crucial.

Source: Nippon Express