UD has demonstrated  its first level 4  automated  heavy duty truck at a special media and industry event at the UD Experience Centre at the company’s headquarters in Ageo near Tokyo this week which Truck and Bus News was  invited to attend.

L4 automation is the last step towards fully-automated transportation, where the driver lets the vehicle autonomously handle every aspect of driving. The truck being demoed, negotiated a complex series of maneuvers around a confined test course at the centre with the driver sitting at the wheel but acting as a passenger with hands off and feet off the pedals

The company explained that the course‘ emulated the real-use conditions of heavy-duty trucks in confined areas such as ports, factories, warehouses and construction sites, where automation technology will help improve efficiency, safety and productivity ‘.

The exercise demonstrated automation technologies includingGPS (Global Positioning System), radar, Lidar, onboard camera and software which enable such high-precision automation for starting, stopping, slaloming, U-turns and reverse driving.

The company said that balancing and maneuvering heavy-duty payloads in unexpected road conditions requires a high level of expertise, especially in steering technology and explained that the heavy-duty Quon used in the exercise helped stabilise automated driving with its ESCOT VI automated manual transmission as well as its proven steering system.

UD  also revealed that  it is currently participating in the Japanese government’s highway platooning projects and says it will continuously improve the accuracy and safety of automation technologies including vehicle-to-vehicle communications and lane keeping assistance.

UD’s position as part of the Volvo Group means it has access to a wealth of testing data that it uses to improve automation and connectivity technology to suit the unique needs of each customer. The company says it aims to partner with companies across the logistics industry and beyond to build knowledge and refine its technology through a strategy of “building knowledge while testing.”

“UD Trucks is proud to present the first demo of Level4 automation for heavy-duty trucks and the demo is a major step toward practical application of this technology by 2020. Our heavy-duty truck Quon, launched in 2017, contains a sophisticated vehicle control system, which is the base of our highly-precise automation technology,” said UD Trucks senior vice president of technology, Douglas Nakano at the event.

“UD Trucks will continue to develop more advanced automation technology to address the needs of our customers everywhere and provide the trucks the world needs today. In doing so, we want to drive open discussion together with our business partners. We hope this public demonstration will be the opportunity to start that discussion,” Nakano added.

UD’s automation technology– known as “Fujin” -named for the Japanese god of wind—is one of the two pillars of the UD Trucks’ Innovation Roadmap , Fujin and Raijin. Vision 2030, announced in April this year.

The company says the Innovation Roadmap lays out solutions for global issues facing the logistics industry, such as the need to reduce CO2 emissions, the growing scale of e-commerce and driver shortages.

UD said that connectivity is the enabler of innovation technologies such as automation, electromobility and smart logistics. In Japan, UD says it has provided connectivity technology since 2006 and has around 50,000 vehicles connected in Japan and in some international markets, and is targeting 150,000 by 2025. The company says that data collected from each vehicle is used to help improve customer uptime, fleet operation, quality and innovation.

As part of the wider Volvo Group, UD also  has the advantage of accessing knowledge from different use cases around the world with around 800,000 connected vehicles used

“We have access to Volvo Group assets, so we will leverage this to improve customer experience, contribute to smart logistics and the development of society,” said UD Trucks senior vice president of process and solutions, Satish Rajkumar, who spoke about the benefits of UD Trucks’ position within the VolvoGroup.

UD says it will continue demonstrations of autonomous driving and electric drive prototypes, aiming to complete field tests and customer trials ahead of the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show with a view toward daily operation by 2020 and commercialisation of fully-electric trucks and autonomous trucks by2030.