THE UK IS TESTING OUT A SYSTEM CALLED PLATOONING that will see three lorries wirelessly connected and controlled by the lead vehicle.
It is claimed that platooning will cut fuel costs and congestion, but it does still require a human being as back up in the driver's seat, ready to take the wheel at a moment's notice if something goes wrong. It has the backing, and more than £8m in funding, of the UK government.
The idea is that the lead vehicle will control the speed and flow of the two behind it, and that they will benefit from being in its slipstream, something that has been proved to improve speed and efficiency.
"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," said Transport Minister Paul Maynard. "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.
A feasibility study has already been carried out, but now the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) is to start some serious testing. Statements about the trials suggest that it is the government that pushed for the trials.
We won't see trials on our actual motorways until late 2018, and even then the technology may get hampered by sheer weight of traffic. No one seems to have considered that, though, instead they have embraced the idea of three huge lorries forming one large potential crash menace. The government is happy to be in the passenger seat though, so perhaps we are being ridiculous.
"We are pleased to be supporting the government's ambition for the UK to be a global leader for innovation. 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," said Jim O'Sullivan, chief executive at Highways England.
He continued: "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." µ
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