Lorry Platooning. Wireless tech to be used on convoy of lorries to synch moves, save fuel and lower emissions
The government has pledged £8.1 million in funding for trials for the innovative use of wireless technology on heavy duty transport.
The lorry technology trails could potentially slash fuel costs and congestion, as well as lower emissions when transporting goods on British roads.
The idea is to get a ‘platoon’ (or convoy) of lorries on a motorway accelerating, braking and steering in sync via wireless technology, thanks to £8.1 million of government funding for trials.
The “platooning”trial itself will involve three heavy goods vehicles, all of who will travel in convoy on a motorway thanks to ‘unnamed’ wireless technology.
The lead lorry will control the acceleration and braking of the two following lorries. And it should be noted that all lorries in the platoon will always have a driver ready to take control at any time.
The trial, if it successful, could have a number of benefits for businesses and motorists in the UK. Firstly a row of lorries driving closer together would allow for the leading lorry to push air out of the way. This would of course improve the efficiency of the following lorries, providing fuel savings, lowering their emissions and thereby improving air quality.
“We are investing in technology that will improve people’s lives,” explained Transport Minister Paul Maynard. “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.”
The trial will be carried out by the Transport Research Laboratory, utilising the funding provided by the Department for Transport (DfT) and Highways England. A feasibility study has already recommended a trial to examine the benefits and viability of platooning.
“We are pleased to be supporting the Government’s ambition for the UK to be a global leader for innovation,” said Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England Chief Executive. “The trial has the potential to demonstrate how greater automation of vehicles – in this instance, HGVs – can deliver improvements in safety, better journeys for road users and reduction in vehicle emissions.
“Investing in this research shows we care about those using our roads, the economy and the environment, and safety will be integral as we take forward this work with TRL.”
The trial will take place in three phases according to DfT. The first phase will focus on the potential for platooning on the UK’s major roads. Test track data will help decide details such as distance between vehicles and on which roads the tests could take place. The first test is expected to take place on major roads before the end of 2018.
“Each phase of the testing will only begin when there is robust evidence that it can be done safely,” said DfT. It pointed out that similar trials have already been successfully carried out in Europe and the United States.
The use of advanced technology in transportation have been growing rapidly in recent years. Google for example has been pioneering driverless cars for many years now, and many car manufacturers are now following its lead.
In 2016 a report claimed that the introduction of driverless cars to Britain’s roads would lead to a major drop in accidents and provide a huge boost to the nation’s economy. And earlier this year computer modelling by the DfT predicted that driverless cars would cut delays and reduce journey times.
In June the Queen’s speech focused heavily on Brexit, but it also included a number of tech-related issues including driverless cars, data protection, and even space travel.