About a dozen trucks have traveled thousands of kilometers on European highways from various countries with only a computer at the wheel, and they safely arrived at their destination in Rotterdam yesterday.
As incredible as this may sound, the success has been possible thanks to the new semi-automated driving technologies, which have allowed different car brands (Scania, Volvo, Daimler, Iveco, Daf, Man) to show the results achieved on the field.
The group of vehicles departed from Sweden, Germany, Denmark and Brussels to reach the same destination, Rotterdam. The longest route, from Sweden, was more than two thousand kilometers. The journey was called Truck platooning European Challenge, an event organized by the Dutch government on the occasion of their European Union presidency this year. When trucks autonomously follow one another, it’s called “platooning”. They’re connected by wifi and can leave a much smaller gap between vehicles than when humans are at the wheel, therefore trucks can remain united in a convoy for thousands of kilometers without the occurrence of accidents.
This was just a test, drivers were still on board just in case they had to intervene, anyway if the experiments will continue to give good results these trucks could be used for transporting goods. This system can prevent human error from causing accidents, can reduce fuel use by up to 15% and can also reduce expenses, two trucks clocking 100,000 miles annually can save €6,000 on fuel by platooning, compared to driving on cruise control. Major transportation companies (such as Volkswagen) are investing on platooning, since this semi-automated technique can help reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by up to 10%.