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Plus, an autonomous trucking developer, and IVECO, a branch of Iveco Group that designs and manufactures commercial trucks, this week launched an automated trucking pilot in Germany. The companies will start the pilot in the first half of 2024.
Plus and IVECO are working with dm-drogerie markt, a large European retail chain of drugstores, and DSV, a transport and logistics provider based in Denmark. The pilot will involve an IVECO heavy-duty truck integrated with Plus’ AI-based, driver-supervised, highly automated driving software. The truck will drive along a DSV route to transport dm-drogerie markt products in Germany’s Baden Württemberg-Hessen region.
“Automation is a driving force to let the transport industry evolve towards new safety and efficiency frontiers,” said Marco Liccardo, chief technology and digital officer at Iveco Group, in a release.
“We are delighted that DSV and dm recognize the transformative potential of our highly automated trucks,” he said. “Their collaboration with IVECO and Plus on this pilot will further advance the understanding of this technology at scale and represents a milestone for the concrete deployment of autonomous driving production series.”
Autonomous trucking ramps up
IVECO and Plus said that piloting with a logistics carrier on a busy commercial freight route is a key enabler for large-scale deployment of automated trucks in the coming years. The companies said they hope to demonstrate that automated driving technology can already be used today.
In addition, the companies said that automation can make trucking safer, less stressful, more efficient, and more sustainable.
“Trucking is an essential but challenging job. Plus’s suite of software solutions, from the driver-in to the self-driving system, is designed to support different needs and use cases,” stated Shawn Kerrigan, co-founder and chief operating officer of Plus. “Our collaboration with dm, DSV and IVECO will accelerate the commercial deployment of our autonomous driving technology at scale and help realize our shared vision for a safer and greener future.”
IVECO and Plus grow collaboration
Plus and IVECO first announced their partnership in April 2021. The companies signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop autonomous trucks. They said they planned to deploy these trucks across China, Europe, and other regions.
In December 2021, IVECO and Plus started conducting tests in China and Europe. The companies finished the initial pilot, which focused on deep engineering integration and closed-course testing, in August 2022.
After the pilot, the companies shifted their focus towards public road testing in vehicles supervised by a safety driver. These tests covered a number of countries in Europe, including Austria, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland.
Plus says that customer deployments have shown that its driver-in system, PlusDrive, can help reduce the total cost of ownership for fleets and improve driver job satisfaction.