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Operational automation to support multimodal freight transport
Horizon Europe - Cluster 5 - Destination 6: Safe, Resilient Transport and Smart Mobility services for passengers and goods
Estimated EU contribution per project
Link to the call
Link to the submission
Projects are expected to ensure operational efficiency and support multimodal transport.
Automated vehicles, rolling stock and vessels, as well as related transhipment automated processes, are developed independently within the various transport modes and sectors. This creates gaps and disconnections in the actual use within the logistics operations, missing concrete new operational models and opportunities for end-to-end logistics, which may support adoption and contributing to system integration and decarbonisation.
Automation will change the way goods flow across all modes (possibly encouraging modal shifts to coastal shipping modes/smaller vessel fleets, inland waterways transport, railway transport, or alternative road transport usages) and is not well explored in terms of opportunities for the logistics supply chains and enabling increased usage of vehicles and infrastructures. A high level of operational automation can be reached in terminals and hubs (e.g. node-to-node operations undertaken in inland hubs, multimodal depots, logistics terminals, freight consolidation facilities), which offer controlled environments and repeatable processes but also in the operational domain of processes occurring in those places.
To ensure operational efficiency and support multimodal transport, proposals should address all the following points:
- Identify gaps in automated transport technologies and logistics operations between modes and hubs.
- Assess benefits of autonomous vehicles, rolling stock and vessels to multimodal logistics and the role/benefits of seamless multimodal automatic cargo transport across transport modes (rail, road, waterborne, aviation, alternative innovative modes of transport).
- Investigate the requirements and define concrete benefits of seamless and automated logistics operations, particularly in multimodal terminals and hubs, linking e.g. rail, road and inland waterways with a focus on intra-European freight flows. Consider interoperability and cybersecurity issues.
- With the support of e.g. machine learning, digital twins, robotic process automation and AI, and using historical operational data, compare and demonstrate (through simulation) benefits of operational automation to current standard flows and operations in all modes. Synergies for rail will need to be sought with the EU-Rail Programme projects implementing the Flagship Areas 1, 2 and Destination 5.
- Design, analyse and evaluate business and governance models as well as organisational change issues and incentives to reduce the investment costs and support the implementation of automated solutions for logistics and multimodal freight transport.
- Develop and propose recommendations for possible regulatory and policy actions supporting the adoption of automated solutions for logistics and multimodal freight transport.
Projects are expected to contribute to all of the following outcomes:
- Better definition of the operational automation requirements for seamless multimodal automatic freight transport.
- Clearly assessed benefits, in terms of reduced social and environmental impacts (e.g. GHG, congestion, working conditions, employment rate and safety) and reduced logistics and freight transport costs, as well as technological gaps of hubs’ automation.
- Strategies to reduce the investment cost in this sector and support the implementation of automated solutions for logistics and multimodal freight transport are proposed.
- Recommendations for possible regulatory and policy actions.
- Synergies are established among rail, road, aviation, waterborne and alternative innovative modes of transport research actions on automation relevant for freight transport (e.g. links to CCAM and Zero Emission Waterborne Transport Partnerships, and EU Rail JU Flagship Areas 1, 2 and 5).
Regions / countries for funding
Moldova (Moldova), Albania (Shqipëria), Armenia (Հայաստան), Azerbaijan (Azərbaycan), Belarus (Беларусь), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina / Босна и Херцеговина), Faeroes (Føroyar / Færøerne), Georgia (საქართველო), Island (Ísland), Israel (ישראל / إِسْرَائِيل), Kosovo (Kosova/Kosovë / Косово), Montenegro (Црна Гора), Morocco (المغرب), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Tunisia (تونس /Tūnis), Türkiye, Ukraine (Україна), United Kingdom
EU Body, Education and training institution, International organization, Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) / Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Other, Private institution, incl. private company (private for profit), Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs), Research Institution incl. University, Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)
To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the following countries:
- the Member States of the European Union, including their outermost regions
- the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) linked to the Member States
- third countries associated to Horizon Europe - see list of particpating countries
Only legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes, as beneficiaries, three legal entities independent from each other and each established in a different country as follows:
- at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State; and
- at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Any legal entity, regardless of its place of establishment, including legal entities from non-associated third countries or international organisations (including international European research organisations) is eligible to participate (whether it is eligible for funding or not), provided that the conditions laid down in the Horizon Europe Regulation have been met, along with any other conditions laid down in the specific call topic.
A ‘legal entity’ means any natural or legal person created and recognised as such under national law, EU law or international law, which has legal personality and which may, acting in its own name, exercise rights and be subject to obligations, or an entity without legal personality.
- Affiliated entities — Affiliated entities (i.e. entities with a legal or capital link to a beneficiary which participate in the action with similar rights and obligations to the beneficiaries, but which do not sign the grant agreement and therefore do not become beneficiaries themselves) are allowed, if they are eligible for participation and funding.
- Associated partners — Associated partners (i.e. entities which participate in the action without signing the grant agreement, and without the right to charge costs or claim contributions) are allowed, subject to any conditions regarding associated partners set out in the specific call conditions.
- Entities without legal personality — Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guarantees to protect the EU’s financial interests equivalent to those offered by legal persons.
- EU bodies — Legal entities created under EU law including decentralised agencies may be part of the consortium, unless provided for otherwise in their basic act.
- Joint Research Centre (‘JRC’)— Where provided for in the specific call conditions, applicants may include in their proposals the possible contribution of the JRC but the JRC will not participate in the preparation and submission of the proposal. Applicants will indicate the contribution that the JRC could bring to the project based on the scope of the topic text. After the evaluation process, the JRC and the consortium selected for funding may come to an agreement on the specific terms of the participation of the JRC. If an agreement is found, the JRC may accede to the grant agreement as beneficiary requesting zero funding or participate as an associated partner, and would accede to the consortium as a member.
- Associations and interest groupings — Entities composed of members (e.g. European research infrastructure consortia (ERICs)) may participate as ‘sole beneficiaries’ or ‘beneficiaries without legal personality’. However, if the action is in practice implemented by the individual members, those members should also participate (either as beneficiaries or as affiliated entities, otherwise their costs will NOT be eligible.
other eligibility criteria
Activities are expected to achieve TRL 5 by the end of the project.
For the Technology Readiness Level (TRL), the following definitions apply:
- TRL 1 — Basic principles observed
- TRL 2 — Technology concept formulated
- TRL 3 — Experimental proof of concept
- TRL 4 — Technology validated in a lab
- TRL 5 — Technology validated in a relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
- TRL 6 — Technology demonstrated in a relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies)
- TRL 7 — System prototype demonstration in an operational environment
- TRL 8 — System complete and qualified
- TRL 9 — Actual system proven in an operational environment (competitive manufacturing in the case of key enabling technologies, or in space)
If projects use satellite-based earth observation, positioning, navigation and/or related timing data and services, beneficiaries are expected to clearly describe if and how the use of Copernicus and/or Galileo/EGNOS are incorporated in the proposed solutions. In addition, if the activities proposed involve the use and/or development of AI-based systems and/or techniques, the technical and social robustness of the proposed systems has to be described in the proposal.
Relevance for EU Macro-Region
EUSAIR - EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, EUSALP - EU Strategy for the Alpine Space, EUSBSR - EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSDR - EU Strategy for the Danube Region
UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs)
All proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funders & Tenders Portal electronic submission system (accessible via the topic page in the Search Funding & Tenders section). Paper submissions are NOT possible.
Proposals must be complete and contain all parts and mandatory annexes and supporting documents, e.g. plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results including communication activities, etc.
The application form will have two parts:
- Part A (to be filled in directly online) contains administrative information about the applicant organisations (future coordinator and beneficiaries and affiliated entities), the summarised budget for the proposal and call-specific questions;
- Part B (to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system) contains the technical description of the project.
Annexes and supporting documents will be directly available in the submission system and must be uploaded as PDF files (or other formats allowed by the system).
The limit for a full application (Part B) is 45 pages.