Driverless truck convoys cross Europe

Driverless trucks just passed an important milestone, by quietly completing a convoy journey across European borders. As part of the European Truck Platooning Challenge, more than a dozen vehicles from six of Europe’s biggest manufacturers, arrived in Rotterdam harbour around midday on Wednesday after a week of driving across the continent.

Platooning is when two or three autonomous vehicles form part of a convoy. Communicating via Wi-Fi, the leading truck determines the route and speed, while the other trucks follow, closer than a human driver would be able to safely manage.

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One study suggests that using autonomous trucks in this way would reduce fuel consumption by 15%, would reduce the number of accidents and it would lower congestion. A few trucks travelling 100,000 miles would save just under £5,000 per year, according to the report.

With trucks arriving in Holland having set off from Sweden and the south of Germany, the experiment was a big success. One platoon from Scania crossed four borders and travelled 2,000km to reach its goal.

Footage of the truck platoons in action appears the video below though given it’s more than an hour long, you may want to dip in and out unless you really like haulage:

Truck platooning will ensure cleaner and more efficient transport. Self-driving vehicles also contribute to road safety because most accidents are caused by human failure,” said Melanie Schultz van Haegen, the Dutch infrastructure and environment minister.

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There are still plenty of bureaucratic challenges to overcome for self-driving to become a mainstream part of haulage but Dirk-Jan de Bruijn, the platooning challenge’s programme director, is optimistic these can be overcome. “We now have huge energy in the network and the idea is that we will go to real-life cases. Companies like Unilever are planning to start these cases in 2017,” he added.

READ NEXT: How do Google’s self-driving cars work?

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