[Extract of the press release issued today by TRL as leader of the consortium including Ricardo, which will deliver this platooning project]
UK Government gives green light for first operational vehicle platooning trial
The Department for Transport (DfT) and Highways England has commissioned TRL, to lead the first real-world operational trial of platooning vehicles on UK roads. The £8.1m trial will see TRL lead a consortium of partners including DAF Trucks, the UK market leader of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) sales, Ricardo, who worked with TRL to deliver the HGV Platooning feasibility study for the DfT in 2014 and DHL, the global market leader in the logistics industry.
Applying experience gained in platooning projects in Europe and the USA, the project will collect information and independently evaluate heavy vehicle platooning under real-world operational conditions. Trials will be tailored to the unique requirements of UK roads and will collate the evidence required to understand issues such as fuel efficiency and reduced emissions, safety, acceptance by drivers and other road users, implications for future infrastructure, and the commercial case for adoption.
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.”
Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England Chief Executive, said: “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. 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.”
The on-road trials will form part of regular DHL logistical operations and are expected to take place in 2018, following the successful completion of a rigorous programme of driving simulations, driver training and test track trials over the coming months.