European companies successfully rise to the smart truck challenge

  • TECH
  • Thursday, 07 Apr 2016

Getting green: Semi-autonomous commercial vehicles travelling in convoys or

The world's first cross-border platoons of semi-autonomous trucks have successfully completed their journey, arriving in Rotterdam, The Netherlands on Wednesday afternoon as part of the European Truck Platooning Challenge.

The initiative was organised by the Dutch government to highlight the environmental and logistical benefits that semi-autonomous commercial vehicles, travelling in unison in convoys or ‘platoons' can bring.

"Driving in a convoy is one of numerous examples to raise the performance of goods transport extensively with connected trucks," said Daimler board member, Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard. "We consider platooning a meaningful part of the integrated approach in which all stakeholders in road transport contribute to reduce fuel consumption and CO2."

Daimler was one of six companies to accept the challenge. Its three-truck platoon set off in formation from Stuttgart, Germany on Monday and was joined in the Dutch port on Wednesday by convoys from DAF Trucks, Iveco, Man Truck 1 Bus, Scania and Volvo Group.

Platooning uses connected car and other technological aids to enable a group of trucks to drive very closely together. As a result, three vehicles take up a combined 80 meters of road space, rather than 150m. This reduces congestion, increases safety for others and improves aerodynamics, cutting fuel consumption and emissions substantially. But driving in this formation is only possible with semi-autonomous driving aids.

"The results of this first ever major try-out in Europe are promising," said Melanie Schulz, the Dutch minister for Infrastructure and the Environment, said. "It will certainly help my colleagues and I discuss the adjustments needed to make self-driving transport a reality."

The discussion is necessary because each European Union state has its own laws regarding what is and isn't allowed on its road network. The platoons were the first ever connected commercial vehicles to drive semi-autonomously across EU state borders but Harrie Schippers of DAF Trucks hopes that they will soon become "a common sight" on Europe's roads.

"Harmonisation is needed if we want a wide-scale introduction of platooning," he said. "It is precisely for this reason that we believe that the European Truck Platooning Challenge has been a huge success: it has fostered much-needed cooperation between all relevant stakeholders right across the EU, facilitating cross-border driving, and encouraging compatibility on legal and technical issues." —  AFP Relaxnews

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