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Platooning may be the new way of travelling on motorways in as little as ten years time – and the EU-financed SARTRE project has carried out the first successful demonstration of its technology at the Volvo Proving Ground close to Gothenburg, Sweden.

This is the first time the EU-financed development teams in SARTRE try their systems together outside the simulators. “We are very pleased to see that the various systems work so well together already the first time,” says Eric Coelingh, engineering specialist at Volvo Cars. “After all, the systems come from seven SARTRE-member companies in four countries. The winter weather provided some extra testing of cameras and communication equipment.”

“This is a major milestone for this important European research programme,” says Tom Robinson, SARTRE project coordinator, of Ricardo UK Ltd. "Platooning offers the prospect of improved road safety, better road space utilization, improved driver comfort on long journeys and reduced fuel consumption and hence CO2 emissions. With the combined skills of its participating companies, SARTRE is making tangible progress towards the realization of safe and effective road train technology".

Safer and more convenient

Vehicle platooning, as envisaged by the SARTRE project, is a convoy of vehicles where a professional driver in a lead vehicle drives a line of other vehicles. Each car measures the distance, speed and direction and adjusts to the car in front. All vehicles are totally detached and can leave the procession at any time. But once in the platoon, drivers can relax and do other things while the platoon proceeds towards its long haul destination.

The tests carried out included a lead vehicle and single following car. The steering wheel of the following car moves by itself as the vehicle smoothly follows the lead truck around the country road test track. The driver is able to drink coffee or read a paper, using neither hand nor foot to operate his vehicle.

Platooning is designed to improve a number of things: Firstly road safety, since it rules out the human factor that is the cause of at least 80 percent of the road accidents. Secondly, it saves fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions with up to 20 percent. It is also convenient for the driver because it frees up time for other matters than driving. And since the vehicles will travel in highway speed with only a few meters gap, platooning may also relieve traffic congestion.

The technology development is well underway and can most likely go into production in a few years time. What may take substantially longer are the public acceptance and the legislation where 25 EU governments must pass similar laws.
 

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I have heard of the Sartre project. I think public trust of the system will kill it though. Google has been driving automated cars in the US on public roads and this project in the EU has been going for several years, but who is going to trust a computer (and the car in front) at 70-80mph with 1m gap?

The public still demands to have a pilot and co-pilot in a plane even though the plane can do automatic take-off and landing and cruise and that in an area where there is a relatively large gap between vehicles. The issue is what if the car 1m in front has a blow out and cannot follow the path. Basically you hit it! (I liked the bit in the wrongipedia page where it said - pile-ups are limited to the number of cars in a platoon - yeah, well done, limited accidents to just 8-25 cars!)
 

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It's real, Steve Sutcliffe wrote about this topic in Autocar approximately a year ago.

What happens with a blow out or if the Jag goes suddenly into reduced power mode?
 

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Besides totally defeating the purpose of driving (which is of course to drive and has very little to do with transporting yourself :) ) this sounds both boring and dangerous.
They say that the lead is supposed to be a "professional driver" which means you will be stuck behind a lorry for the duration of the trip. Fun.
You will also always be responsible (and if in the US: liable) for anything that happens while you're behind the wheel, so if the technology fails you have to be ready to resume control.

And what happens when you get so caught up in your coffee and newspaper that you don't notice that the lorry turns off the motorway to offload at the logistics centre in the middle of nowhere.
I can see it now, every DHL lorry that comes in is towing 10 cars with business men in suits being totally lost in phone conversations or the FT. Hilarious.

This will never make it out of the lab. Ever. Really.

But the Swedish (Chinese, Dutch) car manufacturers are very apt at obtaining public funds to keep their development departments afloat.
 

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Don't know what you mean - they already have this in Belgium. I've driven there many times over the years, and even when doing 130mph they can slot into a slightly-less-than-a-car's-length gap and travel in convoy at this speed for miles on end :D
 

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Just wondering (hard at work, so these thoughts just come to me :D

Is this European program meant for cars or just for trucks? The diagrams show a mix of traffic, but that doesn't make sense in the given trucks and cars have different speed limits. Can't imagine they're hoping to improve motorway congestion by having everyone driving an enforced 60mph. If it's only trucks then it sounds great. The trucks save fuel (and don't kill the rest of us when they don't pay attention after driving 10 hours straight) and it keeps them all in a line (in the slow lane even up hills). So if there's a crane doing 10mph at the front they can't pull into the middle lane up-hill when they can only manage 40mph themselves.

Doesn't it suddenly sound like genius! :cool:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
If you thought this Platooning project had died a death, read on.

Infographic: EU Roadmap for Truck Platooning

<time datetime="2017-05-09" style="box-sizing: border-box;">09/05/2017</time>


The EU Roadmap for Truck Platooning provides an overview of the steps that are necessary to implement multi-brand platooning before 2025. This roadmap shows when, and under which conditions, truck platooning can be introduced according to Europe’s truck manufacturers, provided that certain conditions are met – some of which are beyond the control of the truck industry.

(Click on the thumbnail above to open the infographic in a new window)
Platooning: step-by-step introduction

The technology for platooning with trucks of the same brand (so-called ‘mono-brand platooning’) is already available. Clearly, customers will need to be able to platoon with trucks of different brands, so the next step is to introduce multi-brand platooning (up to automation level 2 as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers, or SAE) with the driver still ready to intervene.
By 2023, it should be possible to drive across Europe on motorways (thus crossing national borders) with multi-brand platoons, without needing any specific exemptions. Subsequently, allowing the driver of a trailing truck to rest might come under consideration. Full autonomous trucks will only come later.
Connected and Automated DrivingIntelligent Transport Systems Truck PlatooningGuides and Brochures Connected and Automated DrivingTrucks, Vans, Buses Trucks
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Download Infographic: EU Roadmap for Truck Platooning

IMG_0477.jpg
IMG_0478.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #11
So today the government announce that a trial of platooning will be undertaken next year.
Most likely motorway section to be used wil be the M6 north of Carlisle.
Interestingly the AA have jumped out of their box to protest that it is not the answer to reduce emissions
More interesting is their preferred solution electric trucks. Result :)
 

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Platooning already occurring, there called trains which ton for ton hauled is far more fuel efficient. If this is going to happen on motorways what happens when there are so many trucks in convoy that they start to obstruct people trying to leave as the convoy pass motorway junctions. This may work in countries with very long straight roads but can you imagine this on the M25 in rush hour.
 

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Platooning already occurring, there called trains which ton for ton hauled is far more fuel efficient. If this is going to happen on motorways what happens when there are so many trucks in convoy that they start to obstruct people trying to leave as the convoy pass motorway junctions. This may work in countries with very long straight roads but can you imagine this on the M25 in rush hour.
In Australia they just cut out the middlemen, literally. They build powerful enough tractor units they don't need to platoon, they just hitch up all the trailers and run. Of course reversing is tricky but then a platoon of trucks can't reverse either.

Those trains are tricky to use at the beginning and end of journey. That's how the trucking industry started taking over, the labour to load and unload got too expensive and then they invented the container.....
 
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