BRISTOL – Fusion Processing Ltd, a leading provider of automated drive systems, has announced that the Hub2Hub consortium project has been awarded £6.6 million to develop the world’s first autonomous, zero-emission heavy goods vehicle (HGV) for the UK market. The consortium, led by HVS and including ASDA and Fusion Processing Ltd, will build two prototype vehicles.
The Centre for Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) selected the £12 million venture as one of seven recipients for its joint industry and government-funding. The first prototype HGV will be fitted with a driver’s cab and tested on the road in autonomous operation using Fusion Processing Ltd’s Automated Drive System, CAVStar. The second prototype will have the driver’s cab removed and will be evaluated on test tracks with a remote human driver located in a control hub operating the vehicle.
The Hub2Hub project will demonstrate the potential for autonomy in the transportation sector with improved efficiency, safety and cost savings for logistics operators, as well as new employment opportunities. The project will also accelerate the development of hub-to-hub automated driving technology. The CAVstar system combines vision systems, AI and route planning to deliver a fully autonomous vehicle that takes over from a human driver and hands back control at predetermined hubs on a route.
Fusion Processing CEO Jim Hutchinson said that their market analysis indicates that autonomous vehicle technology will first be used in commercial vehicle segments such as haulage. HVS CEO Jawad Khursheed added that the transport revolution in the UK has HVS and the consortium at the forefront of innovation. Business Secretary Grant Shapps said that the support for self-driving vehicles will help the UK grow its economy and create jobs. ASDA Senior Fleet Manager Sean Clifton said that reducing fleet emissions is a major part of their plan to move towards net zero and they will look at innovative technology such as autonomous HGV tractor units.
Autonomous vehicles have the potential to revolutionize the haulage and logistics sectors by providing operational safety, solving issues of driver shortages and improving driver quality of life, and reducing energy and tire emissions. Fleet operators can also benefit from improved operational efficiencies and new business models. Forecasts predict that by 2035, 40% of new UK car sales will have self-driving capabilities.