Multifunctional Urbane Logistics platforms with Electric propulsion

The project founds itself on the patent application A 50091/2015 Autonomous multifunctional electrically propelled urban mobility platform

The project is co-financed by the Austrian Research Fund FFG in the framework mobility of the future of the ministry for transport, innovation and technology bm:vit. [Link towards FFG-page]


For the investigation of the acceptance of applications of the technology, various ideas were visualized. The list included over 50 applications in 8 application families:

  1. carrying, following, surveying
  2. position goods in the vicinity of clients
  3. returning assets/Reverse Logistics
  4. Positioning of Assets
  5. self driving pick-up and drop-off stations
  6. intermodal logistics
  7. other solutions which might not be categorized

Selected applications of higher importance will be: postal services for single- or multi-client, standardized loading units for clients in retail and production, reverse logistics and rolling pick-up stations

For the explorative research two generic solutions (CEP-transporter and lorry) were chosen, covering several applications. The FTG of TU-Graz had been simulation runs of the conventional and electric transporter with Matlab/Simulink using recorded GPS-tracks..

Analysis logistics

Following three scenarios were compared by EUC:

  1. Status-Quo lorry with trailer
  2. Platoon with constantly four lorries, connecting smaller logistic centers, large malls, hospitals, and producing and cleaning industry, with one driver for loading and unloading.
  3. Platoon letting back vehicles and separate loader for loading and unloading.

For the explorative research test cases with and without self driving vehicles (up to an autonomous operation) were analyzed using simpy. For this purpose a multi-client distribution having m:n relations was modeled for a platooning case, solving the Traveling Salesmen Problem TSP with boundary conditions. The analysis of the logistics added time discrete simulation. Optimization of tours was implemented using das Dynamic Programing and Monte-Carlo variation. Solutions ere identified having lower total cost of operation and energy demand significantly.

An important success factor of fully automated operation is automated loading and unloading (see GM 8035/2015 Appliance for automated forwarding of parcels and packages and GM 50043/2016 Flexible loading and unloading for Autonomous multifunctional electrically propelled urban mobility platforms)

Hardware concept (vehicle, loading and unloading)

For the first generation of cargo vehicles platooning (see Wikipedia-Article about Platooning) is envisaged, reducing the number of drivers to 1/4th. With regards to the vehicle design and packaging a front driven design with load bearing battery confinement and low floor-step-in variant was sketched (see also hand in for protected design A 50968/2016 Lorry with load-bearing battery box and front unloading for efficient goods distribution). The aim of the approach is to achieve a lower height for light vehicles adapted to city centers.


Several approaches to raise acceptance have been carried out. Focused on tbwr and expert interviews, some of the most promising applications were selected in a multi-dimensional approach. In addition to querying the applications and questioning the stakeholders, the preferences for the introduction of automatic moving systems were also raised. The questions cover legal, economic, spatial planning and social requirements. A great expectation could be identified, but with little attention to the details of the implementation and the possible requirements.

The following questions had the highest approval:
  1. Adjustment of the insurance law is required.
  2. Accident data storage with storage of sensor data is required.
  3. Requirements for sensors have to be issued by authorities.
  4. Rules against parking logistical platforms causing visual obstruction have to be set up.
  5. The coach builder can act as a vehicle supplier with non-discriminatory access to driving automats
  6. Behavior determining regulations for driving automats (behavior with respect to emergency vehicles, emergency stops in the case of failure induced risks) are necessary.
  7. Uniform distribution of heavy traffic across the city is necessary.
  8. The transition from assisted to autonomous driving must be regulated by the legislature.
Further questions not mentioned here found agreement. The following questions found the largest rejection (lined up):
  1. Professional drivers need less training in the future.
  2. The distribution of the population in the city must be changed for the success of the new logistics concept.
  3. It needs new short-distance parking zones for the autonomous logistics platforms.
  4. The length of the platoons must be limited.
  5. The distribution of the sinks and sources for transports makes it possible to minimize the distances to the logistics center.

All other questions had more approval than rejection.


The effects may be assigned to three categories:

  1. Lower local emissions due to drivetrain electrification
  2. More efficient logistics through tour services (milk-run) and optimization of routes
  3. Indirect benefits through reduction and temporal shift in delivery times in daylight hours; Something speculative about the possibility that rationally operating driving automats, especially in platoons, reduce traffic and stop'n go
The simulation of the status quo with electric drive by the TU-Graz has shown that free intermediate charging boost the economy of the operation. Amortization of parcel transport vehicles with electric propulsion reaches zero years. The evaluation of the impact of the approach is still in progress. A return of the platoon to vehicles left behind shortens the overall operation time following the simulation results, but increases the cost and the environmental impact compared to fixed tour trains (if costs for loaders are taken into account). For the CO2 emissions it may be assumed that these can be reduced by 2 kg per delivery truck with a payload of about 7 tons in urban areas.

The substantial reduction in transport costs due to the elimination or reduction of drivers necessitates measures to manage or limit traffic.


The roadmap for the introduction of automated / autonomous logistics platforms is currently being validated. Both applications that allow for short-term implementation are taken into account, but those applications which can only be realized realistically in a longer time period, such as autonomous solutions, are not excluded. The temporal and local limitation of the operation is rather seen as hindering. However, there are enough options to establish automatic driving, starting with the use on private company roads and with a voluntary restriction on the high-ranking road network in cities. The development also depends on how the costs for the vehicles (including energy storage costs) are developing in comparison to the labor costs for drivers.

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