UK government to fund first HGV platooning trial

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The UK government is to fund the UK’s first trial of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) platooning technology. 

The Department for Transport (DfT) and Highways England have commissioned the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) to lead a consortium of companies in the trial, including DAF Trucks, engineering consultancy Ricardo and logistics partner DHL.

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.
— Jim O’Sullivan, Chief Executive, Highways England

The £8.1m trials, expected to begin on-road testing on major UK roads next year, will see lorries harnessing vehicle-to-vehicle communications to travel in a platoon, with the lead vehicle controlling the convoy’s speed and direction.

Similar trials have already taken place in Europe and the US.

The project will collect information from testing in real-world operational conditions, tailored to the unique requirements of UK roads.



In particular, the trial will look at issues such as fuel efficiency, emissions, safety, road user acceptance, infrastructure implications and the commercial case for platooning.

Platooning technology has the potential to deliver a wide range of benefits to all road users.
— Richard Cuerden, Academy Director, TRL

TRL Chief Executive Rob Wallis said: “The UK has an unprecedented opportunity to lead the world in trialling connected vehicle platoons in a real-world environment.

“TRL and its consortium of leading international partners, have the practical and technical knowledge gained from previous projects to understand what is required to put a connected vehicle platoon on to UK roads safely. The team are now taking that expertise and uniquely applying it within live traffic operations.”

 
 

Transport Minister Paul Maynard said: “We are investing in technology that will improve people’s lives.

“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.”