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HGV platooning trials set for UK motorways

30 August 2017 #CV Sector #Logistics #News #TNB News

The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) will be undertaking the UK’s first HGV platooning trials on British motorways next year.

The trials will feature convoys of semi-automated trucks that will operate in tandem using a wireless connection. Acceleration, braking and steering will be controlled by the lead vehicle and each will have a driver in the cab ready to retake control at any time.

The potential benefits of platooning are significant, with proponents saying that it could cut both congestion and the cost of fuel for hauliers.

Government is providing £8.1m in funding for the trials and, although the Department for Transport and Highways England have yet to confirm where the first tests will take place, a TRL spokesman told Transport News Brief that the trials will not be held on busy motorways such as the M6, and they will be carried out in non-peak times.

Transport Minister Paul Maynard said, “We are investing in technology that will improve people’s lives. Advances such as lorry platooning could benefit businesses through cheaper fuel bills and other road users thanks to 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.”

TRL will be leading a consortium of partners including DAF Trucks, Ricardo, who worked with TRL to deliver the HGV Platooning feasibility study for the DfT in 2014, and postal company DHL.

Richard Cuerden, Academy Director at TRL, added, “Platooning technology has the potential to deliver a wide range of benefits to all road users. As well as supporting the Department for Transport and Highways England in informing future infrastructure investments and policy decisions, the trials will highlight the services that platooning may offer road users and whether these can safely contribute to a reduction in vehicle emissions, improved journeys and greater economic prosperity.”

Platooning projects have already been carried out in Europe and the US and this UK project will collect information and independently evaluate heavy vehicle platooning under real-world operational conditions.

The trials will be tailored to the unique requirements of UK roads and will collate the evidence required to understand issues such as fuel efficiency and reduced emissions, safety, acceptance by drivers and other road users, implications for future infrastructure, and the commercial case for adoption.

Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England Chief Executive, said, “We are pleased to be supporting government’s ambition for the UK to be a global leader for innovation.  The trial has the potential to demonstrate how greater automation of vehicles – in this instance, HGVs – can deliver improvements in safety, better journeys for road users and reduction in vehicle emissions.”

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