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Robotic escort for freight transport to be tested at Herøya

Three persons in front of Entrance Gate. Trailor driving by.

The test team, from left: Tone Rabe, manager Property Operations in Herøya Industripark AS, Tove Sørensen, Bouvet/project leader HIP and Skjalg Aasland, manager Facilities and Development in Herøya Industripark AS, front the test drive of autonomous pilot service in large EU investment. The Entrance Gate's escort car could in the long run be replaced by a robotic solution.

On behalf of the EU Herøya Industripark AS will test drive an autonomous escort for freight transport.

Herøya Industrial Park is at the forefront of testing the future autonomous transport solutions. The industrial park has now been chosen as Living Lab, a living test area, in the EU's large-scale NOK 50 million investment, Orchestra2020. The goal is to realize the smart digital and green intermodal transport solutions of the future.

Testing in operational Entrance Gate

Important test operations to automate freight transport in practice will be carried out in a fully operational Entrance Gate at Herøya over the next three years. A robotic escort and a digital traffic system that will handle freight transport safely in and out will be implemented.

"Testing a new digital traffic system, connected to an autonomous pilot vehicle in an operational Entrance Gate, is unique", the test team emphasizes. "It is easier and safer to implement here in a closed area, rather than an open area that has several risk factors".

Make it work in practice

Participation and input from those who will use the service such as the operators at the Entrance Gate, transporters and customers, are an important part of the planned test operations.

two persons dressed in yellom vests and white hard hats, leaning on to a white car

Skjalg Aasland, manager Facilities and Development, and Tone Rabe, manager Property Operations, both Herøya Industripark AS.

"In addition, we have access to research environments nearby", Skjalg Aasland states. "This is a field that needs research and development to improve the solutions while we test".

"This is important, because we want to make this work in practice", the team says enthusiastically.

The key to success is collaboration

ITS Norway is in the driver's seat at Orchestra2020, and brings together four Norwegian players, SINTEF, Applied Autonomy, Herøya Industripark AS, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration in addition to ten international players. The collaboration will help to realize future intermodal transport solutions, where it is easy to coordinate and synchronize traffic management of many different autonomous transport solutions by road, rail, water and air.

Management system for the entire industrial park

Tove Sørensen from Bouvet, who also led the work of creating a roadmap for an autonomous industrial park, is now leading the fully funded test project at Herøya, that runs until 2024.

Portrait of woman wearing yellom hard hat

"We are part of many work packages in Orchestra together with different participants during the period", Sørensen says. "We are now preparing to assess management systems for the entire industrial park. In parallel, work is now also being done on rolling out robotic lawnmowers and we are looking for possible sweeping vehicles that are planned for rolling out in the industrial park this coming autumn".

Strategically invests in digital infrastructure

"Using a robot on wheels to escort goods transport is not only a unique test project at Herøya, but a strategic investment", says Skjalg Aasland and Tone Rabe.

"Participation in Orchestra2020 opens up opportunities for us to establish new digital infrastructure with a traffic system where more autonomous machines and vehicles can be connected", they point out. "We have a developed infrastructure for electricity, cooling water, roads and expertise. We are now building digital infrastructure, absolutely necessary for the future and the companies' competitiveness".

A fleet system for future logistics  

Aasland envisions an overarching system, a kind of fleet system, where the industrial park owner provides digital roads necessary for operating industrial logistics.

"We can load on lawnmowers, sweepers and now the escort robot testing project on to the digital system adapted to industrial use. We also work on integrating warehousing and the logistics part related to railways into such a system", he explains.

Knowledge also value for society

"Our goal is to become an autonomous industrial park in ten years. The knowledge we develop through test operations here at Herøya could also be adopted by cities and communities and have great value for the digitally controlled transport solutions of the future, both in Norway and Europe", says Aasland.

Living Lab Herøya

man wearing uniform and green hard hat at entrance industrial park

Espen Åmlid, operator at Entrance Gate.

Espen Åmlid, operator at the Entrance Gate, talks about the great demand and hectic everyday life. - Every ten minutes a vehicle arrives. We register between 40 and 60 registrations at the gate here during the opening hours from 7 am to 3 pm.

Drivers who have been here before and know the industrial park, receive a map and information about the route to destination point. Drivers who have not been here before must use the accompanying car service. This applies to sometimes as many as 20 vehicles a day".

"Would an automated escort car help the job you do?"

"Yes, for sure. The working day is hectic with registering entrances and weighing loads in and out, in addition to operating an escort car", he says.

three persons at a small vehicle

"A rolling robot could replace this escorting car", says the test team from Herøya.

Also read:

The EU-project Orchestra2020. Coordinating and synchronising multimodal transport improving road, rail, water and air transport through increased automation and user involvement | ORCHESTRA Project | H2020 | CORDIS | European Commission (europa.eu)

The government will investigate the potential for new technological solutions through the use of experiments and pilots. See Reforming the Transport Sector.

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