Automated lorries have long been talked about as the future of transport and now the first trials of driverless HGVs have launched in Rotterdam. More than a dozen self-driving trucks made by six of Europe's largest manufacturers arrived in the port in so-called'truck platoons' yesterday. 'Truck platooning' involves two or three trucks that autonomously drive in convoy and are connected wirelessly with the leading truck determining route and speed. More than a dozen self-driving trucks (pictured) made by six of Europe's largest manufacturers arrived in Rotterdam in so-called'truck platoons'. 'Truck platooning', similar to concepts with self-driving cars, involves two or three trucks that autonomously drive in convoy connected wirelessly Wednesday's arrival concludes the first-ever cross-border experiment of its kind with self-driving trucks.
A convoy of nearly a dozen self-driving trucks has arrived safely in Rotterdam following a cross-border European test run, in one of the first major steps towards future automated trucking. The self-driving truck convoy was part of one of the largest convoys of these semi-automated trucks being tested by a consortium of some of the largest European truck producers, including DAF, Daimler, Iveco, MAN, Scania and Volvo. According to The Guardian, the truck convoy arrived in what are being called'truck platoons', which consist of groupings of between two and three trucks. Within the truck platoon, the three individual vehicles were connected via a wireless signal, with one truck leading and the others following suit in terms of the route the lead is taking, as well as speed. President of the group representing the manufacturers, Eric Jonnaert, said that the concept of truck platoons for self-driving trucks driving at the same speed would have a considerable benefit in terms of reducing traffic on motorways.
Automation will increasingly allow vehicles to take over certain aspects of driving. However automated functions are still being fine-tuned, for example, to ensure smooth transitions when switching between the human driver and driverless mode. Standards also need to be set across different car manufacturers, which is one of the goals of a project called L3Pilot. Although each brand can maintain some unique features, automated functions that help with navigating traffic jams, parking and motorway and urban driving must be programmed to do the same thing. 'It's like if you rent a car today, your expectation is that it has a gear shift, it has pedals, it has a steering wheel and so on,' said project coordinator Aria Etemad from Volkswagen Group Research in Wolfsburg, Germany.
THE teams competing in DARPA's Grand Challenge (see article) have it easy. The driverless vehicles racing off-road in the Mojave desert merely have to avoid boulders, dunes and the occasional cactus. That is nothing compared with the hazards of the open road. Put those same autonomous vehicles on Interstate 15--the busy road that links Los Angeles and Las Vegas--and they would also have to contend with bleary-eyed weekenders, huge trucks and octogenarians puttering along in mobile homes. Even so, engineers and scientists at a handful of academic and industrial research centres are valiantly grappling with the problem of designing autonomous passenger vehicles, buses and trucks.
About a dozen trucks from major manufacturers like Volvo and Daimler just completed a week of largely autonomous driving across Europe, the first such major exercise on the continent. The trucks set off from their bases in three European countries and completed their journeys in Rotterdam in the Netherlands today (Apr. One set of trucks, made by the Volkswagen subsidiary Scania, traveled more than 2,000 km and crossed four borders to get there. The trucks were taking part in the European Truck Platooning Challenge, organized by the Dutch government as one of the big events for its 2016 presidency of the European Union. While self-driving cars from Google or Ford get most of the credit for capturing the public imagination, commercial uses for autonomous or nearly autonomous vehicles, like tractors from John Deere, have been quietly putting the concept to work in a business setting.