V-CAL, led by the NEAA and a high-level consortium, seeks to scale and expand the deployment of Connected and Autonomous Logistics (CAL) to future-proof commercial opportunities and drive significant UK growth in this sector.
The V-CAL project, based in Sunderland, has been awarded £4 million from the government’s £42 million Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) competition through the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV).
V-CAL will build upon the Department for Digital Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) funded 5G CAL project, which delivered a working proof-of-concept (PoC) demonstration of the autonomous and teleoperation of a 40-tonne truck, with live loads delivered from Vantec to Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK (NMUK) fully autonomously without intervention by a safety driver.
The trail-blazing project will scale the deployment on the initial PoC into actual operational conditions and also expand into alternative, more complex routes, which build scale, reliability, and consistency of operation. It will run up to four zero-emission autonomous HGVs around the Nissan Sunderland site, on a private roads, where the vehicles will navigate traffic lights, roundabouts, and other road users – a significant step towards deploying the technology on public roads.
Project V-CAL will scale and expand the initial 5G CAL proof-of-concept, providing two real industrial use cases for the scale and deployment of connected and autonomous logistics:
- The original trial route where 100% of its current vehicles would be replaced with zero-emission HGVs retrofitted with CAL technology. Scale-up of this route will have to consider the real-world scenarios operators face. JIT delivery is production critical and therefore, the autonomous system would have teleoperation back up, utilising the 5G network built and funded by the initial5GCAL project. The project would also address the key challenges of scale deployment, including improved cyber security, system integration and overcoming the challenges of scaling the teleoperation and autonomous systems.
- A more “real world” challenging route where the CAL truck would encounter traffic lights, roundabouts, security gates, bridges and other manned road users. Utilising the original 5GCAL vehicle, we plan to transport the newly assembled vehicles from Nissan to the UK car compound, improving efficiency and will provide viable solutions to the current labour market issues . A fully autonomous system would be deployed in this scenario where delivery is not production critical.
Key Project Outcomes
Overcoming these key challenges will allow the project to showcase its key objectives in proving safe, reliable, and robust systems across multiple use cases, minimising the need for human intervention, and delivering on time every time. This project has the opportunity to unlock the enormous potential for CAL services driving significant UK growth in this emerging, high-potential field.