Autonomous trucks successfully platoon across Europe
Six major manufacturers test driverless trucks in cross-border project.
In a world first, a procession of about a dozen autonomous trucks completed a trip across parts of Europe. The test-driving event was part of the EU Truck Platooning Challenge, an initiative set up by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment to push forward driverless freight transport.
According to a report by Quartz magazine, the trucks set off from manufacturing facilities in Sweden, Germany and Belgium, before arriving at the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands on April 6. During their journey, the vehicles followed the principle of platooning. With the aid of automated technology and Wi-Fi-based vehicle-to-vehicle communication, they could securely travel over long distances leaving only short gaps between them.
According to a TNO study cited by Quartz, this way of convoying is expected to reduce trucks’ fuel consumption by up to 15 percent and prevent human error from causing accidents. It can also help avoid congestion by allowing for a smoother flow of traffic.
The pilot project needed careful and intense preparation – especially regarding the network of governments and authorities involved: "Over the past six months, there has been intensive and multidisciplinary cooperation and teamwork to realize this new form of mobility," the EU Truck Platooning Challenge said in a statement, as quoted by CIO.
The initiative included rigs from six manufacturers, among them Daimler, MAN, Iveco, Volvo and Volkswagen-subsidiary Scania. With more than 2,000 miles (3,218 kilometers) driven and four EU national borders traversed, the Scania-semi-trailer traveled the furthest.
Although it is mainly car producers and tech firms who garner headlines for their automated driving efforts, commercial vehicle producers have also started to harness automation to move commodities more safely and effectively. For example, the UK will test a platoon of up to ten heavy goods vehicles on a motorway in northwest England later this year.