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Department for Transport announces truck platooning trials

On Friday 25th August, the Department for Transport Trials announced that of semi-automated trucks will begin on Britain’s roads next year after the government agreed an £8.1m investment.

The Department for Transport (DfT) and Highways England has commissioned the Transport Research Laboratory to lead the trials, with participation from DAF Trucks, Ricardo, and DHL. Transport minister Paul Maynard says the government believes the technology could reduce fuel bills and emissions and result in less congestion.

“Platooning” connects convoys of trucks by vehicle-to-vehicle communication, allowing them to effectively operate as a single unit – steering, accelerating and braking simultaneously.

The trial will see three-truck convoys controlled by a lead vehicle on regular DHL logistics operations, with driver training and test track trials expected over the coming months. In the early stages of the trial a driver will be present in each truck ready to take control at any time 

It is argued that platooning can reduce vehicle emissions and improve journey times.  There is also a view that the trucks will be able to travel more closely together than vehicles with drivers and will thus take up less room on the roads and by travelling at constant speeds will reduce tailbacks and thus improve traffic flows.

Reservations about the trials have been expressed by motoring organisations representing the private motorist. The RHA has expressed a concern that the trial is concentrating too much on the technology and not enough on the safety aspects of the trial.

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