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Press Release
Industrial Systems & General-purpose

IHI and Subsidiary Develop Retrofit System for Existing Trucks to Autonomously Transport Goods around Factories

IHI Corporation announced today that it and subsidiary IHI Logistics & Machinery Corporation (ILM) have jointly developed a system that companies can retrofit on existing truck fleets to autonomously transport goods around factories.

Autonomous driving system




Electronic drive-by-wire mechanism

The receiving and shipping, warehousing, and manufacturing areas of factories are often sufficiently far from each other to necessitate conveying goods between them with trucks and trailers. The need to automate transportation has arisen to enhance work environments and compensate for aging driver workforces and personnel shortages. 

While automakers are leading the charge to develop autonomous trucks, deployments have been slow because of the special requirements and expense of this equipment. IHI and ILM accordingly developed a retrofittable system that overcomes those challenges. 

System units control and operate the gas and brake pedals and steering wheel. The system also employs position, speed, and obstacle sensors so the now-automated trucks can safely travel along pre-programmed indoor and outdoor routes. 

IHI and ILM are working with a partner company to test functionality and performance and accumulate safety technology and expertise with a view to commercializing the system in 2022. 

They will concurrently provide consulting services, including to advise about on-premises road conditions and analyze risks for vehicle operation rules. Customers will be able to draw on total engineering services from IHI and ILM, including for systems that fully automate manufacturing processes. 

The two companies aim to contribute to economic progress by providing customer solutions through this system and other offerings in their automation equipment and facilities lineups.

System details

  • A truck starts operating after a control room radios the control unit. That unit instructs the actuator and electronic drive-by-wire mechanism based on position, speed, and other information from sensors that operate the gas pedal, brake, and steering wheel.
  • The system uses global navigation satellite system sensors to determine position and speed. If buildings or other facilities block satellite signals or if signal reception is otherwise poor, the truck can keep operating indoors and outdoors by matching LIDAR (laser imaging, detection, and ranging) sensors measurement data and pre-acquired three-dimensional map data to estimate position and speed. Driving conditions determine sensor selection.
System diagram
System diagram

Reference images
Truck retrofitted with system and incorporating global navigation satellite system sensors

Satellite and LIDAR sensors on the roof

Example of LIDAR measurement and map matching

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