So, Truck Platooning…yet another project I remain indecisive about.
For those of you that don’t know what this means, platooning is:
Effectively grouping vehicles into platoons therefore decreasing the distances between cars or trucks using electronic coupling. This capability would allow many cars or trucks to accelerate or brake simultaneously.
The aims being, cheaper fuel bills for businesses, lower emissions and less congestion for other road users.
It should also allow drivers to undertake other tasks, such as administrative work or making calls.
Mercedes has already invested £44m into platoon testing in the US and concluded that there is no business case for Truck Platooning - and that’s even taking into consideration the long straight roads that often may be fairly empty. Yet the UK Government says trials here will proceed as planned.
So why do we think it will be any better in the UK?
Before platoons of trucks can become a common sight on Europe’s roads, here are some of the things they need to do:
Upgrade road infrastructure to allow for platooning. “We can’t even fill our potholes in a timely manner.”
Gain more experience with platooning in real-traffic conditions, for example to find out how other road users react to platoons. “Erm…rubbernecking gives us enough problems already.”
And allegedly convoying should only be implemented when traffic flow is appropriate to allow efficient use of the active technologies. “Are there any UK motorways which aren’t affected by congestion caused by one of the following? Bad drivers, lane restrictions, road works, accidents or adverse weather conditions?"
Shout out to DAF Trucks for providing 3 platoon enabled trucks for the trials – let’s hope your generosity won’t be wasted. As whilst the potential benefits sound great, I can’t see how this can work in practical terms on the UK’s road network – so I for one am looking forward to hearing the results of the trial in due course.
Despite the conclusions drawn by Mer-cedes on the economic case for the technology after investing some €50 million (£44m) on platoon testing, the UK Government says trials here will proceed as planned. A Department for Transport (DfT) spokesman said: “We remain fully committed to trialling lorry platooning and gathering an evidence base that will enable us to assess whether the technology is viable.”