A contract has been awarded to the Transport Research Laboratory to carry out tests of self driving trucks “vehicle platoons”.
Small convoys of partially self driving trucks will be trialed on Major British Roads by the end of 2018 the Government has announced.
The test will include three trucks travelling in formation, the acceleration and braking will be controlled by the first vehicle.
This testing has obviously raised safety concerns and with the recent incidents with testing by Uber on cars it is not surprising .
The plan is automated platooning will help trucks drive more efficiently and can cut their carbon dioxide emissions by ten per cent.
The UK government has announced a platooning trial with tests set for public roads in 2018.
Richard Cuerden, academy director at the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) says “We’re going to build a system that’s robust enough to work in the real world,” “When we get to the end of our project, we’ll have run a trial with a real operator, real goods and on real UK roads.”
How will the testing work?
The lead vehicle will be controlled by a human driver communicating with the rest of the convoy wirelessly.
The following vehicles will be instructed to accelerate and brake by the lead vehicle, allowing the trucks to drive closer together than would be possible with human drivers.
What are the Benefits of Self Driving Trucks?
Trucks driving closer together could reduce air resistance for the following vehicles, the lead truck pushes air out of the way of the following vehicles.
Driving closer together could lead to fuel efficiency savings for haulage companies, which Transport Minister Paul Maynard hopes will be passed on to consumers.
The following trucks could also react more quickly to the lead trucks braking than a human drivers can.
At this stage of the testing human drivers will still steer all the trucks in the convoy.
The TRL will begin trials of the technology on testing tracks, but trials are expected to move to major roads by the end of 2018.
Questions raised about the Safety of Self driving trucks
Will the trucks block motorists trying to leave or enter the motorway?
The TRL says it will carefully choose sections of motorway for its trials, taking the number of junctions and traffic into account.
All the trucks will have drivers behind the wheel who will be able to take control to let other drivers join or leave the motorway if there is an obstruction.
What happens if a car tries to squeeze between the trucks?
The platoon trucks will be able to drive more closely together than those driven exclusively by humans, so the gap between them might be uncomfortably close for a driver to try this maneuver.
However, the TRL says its current strategy is to break up the convoy and let the human drivers take control, if a car squeezes in between the trucks.
How much fuel will a convoy actually save?
According to TRL, other trials have seen improvements in fuel economy of between 4% and 10%.
A local trial will help determine the benefit platooning can deliver in the UK.
The TRL announced its partners for the testing project:
- DAF Trucks, a Dutch lorry manufacturer
- Ricardo, a British smart tech transport firm
- DHL, a German logistics company
Similar trials have been tested in a number of countries around the world, including the US, Germany and Japan.
Campaign group the Road Haulage Association said “safety has to come first”.
Transport Minister Paul Maynard said platooning could lead to cheaper fuel bills, lower emissions and less congestion.
“But first we must make sure the technology is safe and works well on our roads, and that’s why we are investing in these trials,” he said.
I would like to here your feedback about Self Driving Truck personally I think it is a disaster waiting to happen it has been proven time and time again that technology can go wrong and I think that testing on roads open to the public is a mistake, also truck deliver to different locations so I assume it will be like a conveyor belt operation down motorways but with no driver how will it reach its end destination, all seems a bit weird to me.
Thank you for reading this article “Self Driving Trucks to be tested on British Roads 2018” and I look forward to reading your thoughts and comments below.