Self-driving truck convoy makes first cross-border trip

7 Apr 2016

A convoy of nearly a dozen self-driving trucks has arrived safely in Rotterdam following a cross-border European test run, in one of the first major steps towards future automated trucking.

The self-driving truck convoy was part of one of the largest convoys of these semi-automated trucks being tested by a consortium of some of the largest European truck producers, including DAF, Daimler, Iveco, MAN, Scania and Volvo.

According to The Guardian, the truck convoy arrived in what are being called ‘truck platoons’, which consist of groupings of between two and three trucks.

Within the truck platoon, the three individual vehicles were connected via a wireless signal, with one truck leading and the others following suit in terms of the route the lead is taking, as well as speed.

President of the group representing the manufacturers, Eric Jonnaert, said that the concept of truck platoons for self-driving trucks driving at the same speed would have a considerable benefit in terms of reducing traffic on motorways.

Few kinks need ironing out

The trucks that rolled into Rotterdam in the Netherlands were not completely automated, however, as with testing still continuing all of the trucks contained human drivers just in case anything went wrong.

Currently, a few obstacles remain before autonomous trucks can begin driving on the roads officially, particularly in terms of regulating communication systems across all of the manufacturers.

The Netherlands appears to be leading the way in terms of pushing through legislation within the EU, as the current holders of the presidency of the union, with plans to hold discussions to iron out such regulations expected later this month.

“This is all part of a journey, which we are on in the automotive industry, towards highly-automated vehicles,” Jonnaert said.

Truck convoy image via Tarina Sohlman/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic