Today Dutch Infrastructure and the Environment Minister Schultz van Haegen welcomed six columns of autonomous trucks to Maasvlakte II after they had completed a 2,000km journey across Europe.
Part of The European Truck Platooning Challenge they convoy featured DAF Trucks, Daimler Trucks, Iveco, MAN Truck & Bus, Scania, and Volvo Group. The group was the first to drive as a “platoon” across Europe. This marked an international first.
Platooning is a method that allows semi-autonomous driving as vehicles to connect to each other over Wifi and drive in a long column. The first truck navigates and sets the speed of the convoy, but all trucks can use a mix of GPS and sonar to respond to obstacles on their own. Information on speed, and surrounding traffic i then passed through the convey which allows much shorter gaps between vehicles. A networked column synchronizes its direction and breaking which can prevent sudden shock effects.
Platooning is great news for traffic flow and will undoubtedly speed up deliveries. Recent studies have shown utilizing Platooning can reduce fuel consumption by up to 10%.
Erik Jonnaert, secretary-general of ACEA (which represents the six truck manufacturers involved) said: “Platooning reinforces the leadership position of [the European] automotive industry regarding new technology”.
However, the challenge was not just a test of the technology that allowed the different manufactured trucks to work together but will be used to identify how other traffic responds to the columns.