Looks Like We Got Ourselves a Self-Driving Convoy
Autonomous vehicle technology doesn’t come in just one variety. Just look at Google’s fully self-driving approach, which takes humans completely out of the equation, versus automakers’ use of advanced driver assistance systems.
Many industry experts and policymakers also predict that onboard self-driving technology alone won’t be enough to get the zero-accident, full-autonomy future we’ve been promised, and that vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication will be needed as an extra layer of safety for robo-cars. And while self-driving cars get a lot of attention, many observers expect that the commercial trucking industry will help push adoption of the technology given the significant safety and economic benefits it can provide for businesses.
All of these points were proven this week when several truck makers and their technology providers demonstrated on public roads in Europe a concept known as “platooning,” which lets groups of semis travel in semi-autonomous convoys. The trip involved about a dozen big rigs rolling from their respective home bases and traveling more than 1,200 miles and over four borders to the Netherlands port city of Rotterdam as part of the European Truck Platooning Challenge.
The Challenge was designed to not only show the viability of the technology and its benefits, but also how it can transcend individual borders in the European Union and, more specifically, the varying regulations of each EU country. And it could have implications not only for truck travel, but also cars and traffic.
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