Synchronised trucks on motorways
Platoons of lorries under the control of the lead truck are soon to be trialled on UK roads.
The Department for Transport has committed £8.1 million of public funding to platooning tests which will see "up to three heavy goods vehicles travelling in convoy with acceleration and braking controlled by the lead vehicle."
All lorries in the platoon willhave a driver in the cab ready to take back control.
The lorries will be connected and kept in synchronisation by wireless communications.
Ministers hope platooning will be aerodynamically efficient and hence cut fuel use and emissions.
Before the truck convoys take to the public roads they will be analysed on test tracks.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:
“We welcome any investment that keeps the UK at the forefront of autonomous vehicle development, but whether platooning itself is practical for our roads is another matter.
“Streams of close-running HGVs could provide financial savings on long-distance journeys, but on our heavily congested motorways, with stop-start traffic and vehicles jostling for position the benefits are less certain. There is then the question of reliability. We accept a huge amount of human error on our roads but there would be little tolerance - especially amongst lorry drivers - of a platooning system that didn’t work perfectly 100% of the time.”
In response to a government consultation on connected and autonomous vehicles the RAC Foundation said there were several questions that needed answering specifically in relation to platooning, including:
- Will vehicles with different performance specifications - acceleration, braking - be allowed to be in the same convoy?
- How will lorries join and leave the convoy?
- How and when will platoons be allowed to change lane?
- How will interactions with 'conventional' vehicles be managed?
- How and when would drivers in following vehicles be expected to reassume control for their lorries?
Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – RAC Foundation
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Notes to editors:
The RAC Foundation is a transport policy and research organisation that explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and their users. The Foundation publishes independent and authoritative research with which it promotes informed debate and advocates policy in the interest of the responsible motorist.
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