The Department for Transport (DfT) and Highways England have commissioned the Transport Research laboratory (TRL) to lead the first real-world operational trial of platooning vehicles on UK roads. The deal will see TRL work with a consortium including DAF Trucks and Ricardo.
With Level 5 autonomy becoming an increasing possibility, the project will collect information and independently evaluate heavy vehicle platooning under real-world operational conditions.
TRL will use the data to understand issues such as fuel efficiency and reduced emissions, safety, acceptance by road users, as well as the case for commercial adoption.
The on-road trials, which will form part of regular DHL logistical operations, are expected to take place in 2018, following the successful completion of driving simulations, training and test track trials.
Rob Wallis, chief executive officer, TRL, said, “The UK has an unprecedented opportunity to lead the world in trialing connected vehicle platoons in a real-world environment.
“TRL and its consortium of leading international partners have the practical and technical knowledge gained from previous projects to understand what is required to put a connected vehicle platoon on to UK roads safely. The team are now taking that expertise and uniquely applying it within live traffic operations.”
The idea of trialling CAVs on public roads has been met with skepticism. However, transport minister Paul Maynard was keen to highlight the project’s benefits: “We are investing in technology that will improve people’s lives. Advances such as lorry platooning could benefit businesses through cheaper fuel bills and other road users thanks to lower emissions and less congestion. But first we must make sure the technology is safe and works well on our roads, and that’s why we are investing in these trials.”
September 28, 2017