Each manufacturer will be involved with its own team. ‘The aim is to open the way for Europe-wide testing,’ says Jack Martens, project manager Advanced Technology at DAF Trucks.
Project manager Martens is closely involved in the organisation of the Truck Platooning Challenge. “The connection with external partners is relevant here and the Challenge is a great initiative. At DAF we were already involved with pilot schemes on the public road, working together with TNO – the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research . And we are not the only manufacturer working on platooning technologies. Basically, it’s all about getting platooning high on the European agenda – the fact is that platooning justifies the research. As a fuel saver it’s particularly important for our customers. And platooning is also good news for congestion and traffic safety.”
Martens: “The Challenge is also a window for wider discussion. What exactly are the plus points and prejudices around platooning? What would it take to get platooning working really smoothly in Europe, bearing in mind all the legal aspects and rules on infrastructure? The Challenge is a great opportunity for a controlled start-up for this discussion with many key stakeholders. This could well lead to more demos and eventually to an accelerated market rollout of truck platooning.”
DAF’s project manager sees technology as just of one of many challenges within the Challenge. “In terms of technology you can already do a whole lot. All the same, when the platoons arrive on 6 April and are parked neatly side by side on the APM Terminal in Rotterdam, there will be a real sense of technological achievement. That will be a great moment, illustrating our success in achieving large-scale testing of automated driving right in the middle of ordinary traffic! But this is just step one. Our really daunting task will be to open-up the way for Europe-wide testing. We’ll do this by showing that it’s possible to drive with two trucks in a row – probably even three or four in the time to come; and by demonstrating that we can collect and analyse scientific data. Plus, that other road users accept platooning and that it delivers substantial fuel savings. To my mind that is a fine outlook in the direction of 2020.”
During this event the truck manufacturers will be going on the road with their own platoons. “The fact is that they are independent brands with their own approach, and so, they apply different ICT systems. At the end of the day we will need to work on standardisation of information and communication systems to enable multi brand platooning. We still have a way to go.”
This is not to say that we can’t start right away. “As truck manufacturers we share a major common interest here. We are all busy with activities in the field of automated driving. And none of us has permission to go out on the public road. In addition, the industry can also consider the design of relevant legislation, so that, before long, we can go out on the road in a safe and accepted manner. Jack Martens concludes: ”As far as we’re concerned that’s what’s it’s all about!”.
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