For each of the convoys, a driver in the lead vehicle set speed and route with the other trucks folowing automatically using Wi-Fi connection to control braking and acceleration, the longest of the trips was undertaken by the Scania Group, which covered more than 2000 kilometres through Sweden, Denmark and Germany. Organisers of the challenge have argued that the project demonstrates a potential future for transport in Europe.
This was not a test of fully autonomous vehicles, each vehicle’s steering was controlled by a driver and the “platooning” was only used on motorways when traffic conditions were normal. However, the experiment represents a clear step towards that goal and the method of platooning has tangible benefits of its own, potentially reducing congestion, accidents and fuel congestion. A whitepaper released by TNO, a Dutch-based research firm, found that in a truck platoon, both the vehicles following and leading use on average 10% less fuel per trip.
The challenge offers a demonstration of the potential for the technology, it’ll be interesting to see how EU companies and governments react as self-driving vehicles continue to gain prominence.
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