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Hampshire girl mocked for bowel disease attends her prom

Shannon Purcifer, 16, from Gosport, Hampshire, shunned last month's gala because her fellow pupils teased her about her illness and her mother wrote an emotional Facebook post.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 1:15 pm

Wolf shot dead near Cotswold Wildlife Park after escaping

Ember was shot as a 'last resort', to protect the public, by concerned keepers after escaping from her enclosure at Cotswold Wildlife Park in Burford, Oxfordshire on Friday.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 12:18 pm

Indian Muslim teenager 'raped and murdered' in London

Celine Dookhran, 19, was found dead inside a £1.5million South London house after her friend managed to escape despite having her throat slit in the same attack.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 12:17 pm

Indian Muslim teenager 'raped and murdered' in London

Celine Dookhran, 19, was found dead inside a £1.5million South London house after her friend managed to escape despite having her throat slit in the same attack.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 12:17 pm

Uber driver filmed 'receiving oral sex from prostitute'

An Uber customer filmed his driver allegedly receiving oral sex from a woman while on a ride in Chicago on July 17. The passenger claims Uber offered him $10 in credit while investigating.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 12:10 pm

Ryanair accuses families of making toddlers drag suitcases

The budget airline said that some of its passengers were taking advantage of its ‘generous’ allowances and it might have to increase checks at boarding gates.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 12:08 pm

EE refuses to refund those who signed up for 'TrafficTV'

EE is under fire from angry customers hundreds of pounds out of pocket after being charged for a service they never knowingly signed up for and refusing refunds.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 11:19 am

Twitter reacts as Harry and William recall losing Diana

William and Harry's candid confessions about struggling to cope after the death of their mother led to an outpouring of emotion from from viewers, whose numbers peaked at 7.4m, last night.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 9:44 am

Ian Brady and Salman Abedi still lie in the same mortuary

Cemeteries and crematoriums also want nothing to do with the two murderers, leaving them inside the 'Monster Morgue' just outside the Greater Manchester boundary.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 8:49 am

Jobs for the boys?

Who could follow Doctor Who, the Met Police and the UK Supreme Court in handing the top job to a woman?
Posted: July 25, 2017, 8:32 am

Adam Peaty sets new world record in 50m breaststroke

Adam Peaty slices more than three-tenths of a second off his own 50m breaststroke world record in the heats at the World Aquatics Championships.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 8:25 am

Plans to ban leaseholds on new-build houses in England

Ground rents paid to freeholders could also be restricted, under proposals for England.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 8:01 am

Crossrail 2: Support by government 'outrageous' after northern snub

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham says the go-ahead for London will cause "widespread anger".
Posted: July 25, 2017, 7:56 am

Charlie Gard: 'Last precious moments' for parents with their son

Chris Gard and Connie Yates are distraught after ending their legal battle to treat their baby in the US.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 7:19 am

US imported chicken may come with health concerns

Liam Fox has dismissed health concerns about importing chlorine-washed chickens from the US after Brexit. He said there are bigger concerns for a good UK-US free trade agreement.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 7:14 am

'Traumatised' autistic man restrained for 11 hours

Adam Nasralla was restrained by as many as nine members of staff at a private hospital in Birmingham
Posted: July 25, 2017, 7:12 am

Jimmy Choo bought by Michael Kors in £896m deal

The luxury shoemaker is snapped up by Michael Kors Holdings, three months after it was put up for sale.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 6:55 am

Newspaper headlines: 'Sleep tight our little warrior'

Terminally ill baby Charlie Gard dominates the front pages, as his parents end their legal battle to take him to the US for further treatment.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 5:03 am

'Spaced out'

Dodie describes how she plucked up the courage to try a new treatment for depersonalisation.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 2:04 am

Cut off

For many ex-believers, leaving the religion means they can no longer speak to their children or parents.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 2:03 am

Reality TV couples

This year's loved-up Love Island pairs are walking off into the sunset - but how have other reality TV couples fared?
Posted: July 25, 2017, 2:00 am

Nursery closure

Fidgety Fingers is one of many nurseries which say they cannot make government funding rates stretch.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 1:03 am

Rise in personal loans dangerous, Bank of England official says

Household debt is rising much faster than incomes, the Bank of England's Alex Brazier says.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 1:02 am

Food banks warn of school holiday hunger

Many children risk going hungry over the summer, warns the Trussell Trust, which runs 420 UK food banks.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 12:56 am

Swiss man wielding a chainsaw goes on the rampage

Police in the town of Schaffhausen, Switzerland, say they are hunting this 6ft 2ins man after he attacked the offices of a health insurance firm on Monday morning.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 12:52 am

BT research finds average Briton commits 32 crimes a year

Causing an obstruction while flying a kite in a public park or vacuuming your house at an anti-social time could be one of the 32 times a year the average Briton admits to committing a crime.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 12:52 am

Obdulia Sanchez arrested after live-streaming fatal crash

An 18-year-old woman has been arrested after drunkenly crashing her car and killing her 14-year-old sister in Los Banos, California a moment she live streamed to her Instagram account.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 12:34 am

UK faces 'unprecedented' winter downpours

South-east England, the Midlands, East Anglia and north-east England met the threshold set for a high risk of extreme rainfall over the next decade, according to new report by the Met Office.
Posted: July 25, 2017, 12:23 am

Brexit: UK 'overwhelmingly reliant' on EU vets and abattoir workers

The UK is "overwhelming reliant" on EU workers to uphold animal welfare standards, peers say.
Posted: July 24, 2017, 11:57 pm

Back from the Front

The battlefields of WW1 were once marked by thousands of wooden crosses - but what happened to them?
Posted: July 24, 2017, 11:37 pm

Student Emily Hughes denied loan due to namesake

Emily Hughes was told someone with the same name, born on the same day in the same area has already applied.
Posted: July 24, 2017, 11:23 pm

Vlogger: I'm using magnets to treat depersonalisation

Vlogger Dodie Clark is trying a rare treatment to help her depersonalisation condition.
Posted: July 24, 2017, 11:16 pm

Clarifications and corrections

Ryanair informs us that it has never been their policy to separate families from their children and that it now requires under-12s to sit with an adult. We are happy to set the record straight.
Posted: July 24, 2017, 11:01 pm

Rashan Jermaine Charles: Vigil held over police pursuit death

Campaigners blocked the road outside a police station and chanted "no justice, no peace".
Posted: July 24, 2017, 9:56 pm

Charlie Gard's parents give up fight to save their boy

The High Court had been due to hear two full days of evidence about whether the 11-month-old should be allowed to try experimental therapy or ‘die with dignity’ at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Posted: July 24, 2017, 9:48 pm

Cotswold Wildlife Park escaped wolf shot dead

The female Eurasian wolf was discovered outside the perimeter fence of Cotswold Wildlife Park.
Posted: July 24, 2017, 5:44 pm

That shrinking feeling

Everyone knows about Toblerone, but what else is getting smaller?
Posted: July 24, 2017, 5:31 pm

Arizona couple drown after husband tries to save wife

Leukemia survivor Raul Gonzalez, 44, dived into Lake Havasu City when his wife Esmeralda, 41, got into difficulty having gone for a swim and started to panic and both sadly drowned.
Posted: July 24, 2017, 5:24 pm

Changing gender

As government plans to make it easier, Reality Check asked what it means to change gender in law.
Posted: July 24, 2017, 5:04 pm

Sir Elton John thanks Princess Diana for her Aids work

Sir Elton John has praised Princess Diana's work as an Aids activist in a touching conversation with her youngest son Prince Harry.
Posted: July 24, 2017, 3:48 pm

Kent father in court charged with murdering daughter

Richard Kray, 63, appeared before magistrates on Monday charged with the murder of Olivia Kray (pictured), 19, who died after a serious assault at a caravan park in Herne Bay, Kent on Friday.
Posted: July 24, 2017, 3:33 pm

BBC wildlife producer shown in shocking road rage rant

Wildlife producer and director Fergus Beeley shocked a family on Saturday when he got out of his car on the M27 near Portsmouth, Hampshire and launched into an explosive rant.
Posted: July 24, 2017, 3:24 pm

Not Wed or Dead blogger shows off her new daughter

Katy Colins, 32, from Formby, Merseyside, hit headlines around the world after being jilted by Thom Soutter and writing a blog about her subsequent travels.
Posted: July 24, 2017, 3:22 pm

'Smarter' power

The government plans an energy revolution to allow more of us to generate our own energy - how will it work?
Posted: July 24, 2017, 3:19 pm

Charlie Gard: Parents pay tribute to son as legal fight ends

Charlie Gard's dad, Chris, breaks down outside court after ending the legal fight to take him to the US.
Posted: July 24, 2017, 3:06 pm

Human blood found on toy car and sandal of Ben Needham

Kerry Needham said the discovery is evidence of a cover-up in the 1991 disappearance of her son (pictured), who was staying at his grandparents' farm on the Greek island of Kos.
Posted: July 24, 2017, 2:51 pm

Kent schoolboy arrested on suspicion of terror offences 

A 16-year-old boy from Kent has been arrested at Stansted Airport on suspicion of terrorism offences, Thames Valley Police said.
Posted: July 24, 2017, 1:34 pm

England win World Cup after dramatic victory over India

PAUL NEWMAN AT LORD'S: When Anya Shrubsole was nine she stood in the Mound Stand at Lord’s and talked of playing here for England. Now, she is the hero who sealed the World Cup.
Posted: July 24, 2017, 12:20 pm

World Cup win means women's cricket is now seen as cool

NASSER HUSSAIN: What an advert for women’ s cricket that final was. And what a day for Anya Shrubsole and England. It came down to the fact that England handled the pressure better.
Posted: July 24, 2017, 12:12 pm

Prince William: I talk to the children about 'Granny Diana'

Prince William talks about keeping his mother's memory alive for his own children.
Posted: July 24, 2017, 11:47 am

Driver-less trucks will be trialed in the UK as platooning

Driver-less trucks will be trialed in the UK as platooning

Driver-less trucks will be trialed in the UK as platooning

The government is expected to confirm that so called, ‘driverless’ trucks will be trialed in the UK.  Generally met with shock and condemnation, what is actually being proposed?

The correct term for the proposed system to be trialled is not ‘driverless trucks’, but ‘platooning’. This is where a series of vehicles use technology to enable drivers to move more closely to each other in convoy than would be safe if he or she were not using them. The UK government has agreed to a limited trial of platooning on a stretch of the M6 in Cumbria, a portion of UK motorway that is relatively quiet with larger sections between junctions.

There is clearly plenty of concern from road safety campaigners and industry bodies concerned for the long term future of lorry driver jobs.

The RAC’s chief engineer, David Bizley said, “One of the main questions is really whether lorry platoons are appropriate for our motorway network, which is why the choice of the M6 in Cumbria for the trials is a good one because the junctions are few and far between and the traffic density is low compared with most stretches of motorway. So while this is a potentially welcome extension to the driverless technology we are seeing trialled in cars, it’s not clear yet whether it is something that would work in practice on the UK’s motorway network.”


Platooning is nothing new – research into these systems started back in 2009 with EU funding – with the SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project. The project tested combinations of cars, coaches and trucks and resulted in some significant fuel savings across the board between ten and twenty percent.

The first public road test took place back in 2012 in Spain involving three cars and a truck with a gap of 18 feet between each vehicle at a speed of 85 km/h, covering some 200 kilometres.

Since this time, platooning has been trialled in Sweden, Germany and in the United States. Road Haulage Association chief executive Richard Burnett commented: “At the outset, it is important to note that these trucks will not be ‘driverless’. Each cab will be manned. As far as we are concerned, this is an issue where the devil lies in the detail.”

Fuel Saving not Driver Saving

There has been plenty of scaremongering in the press that this will be the end of the long-distance lorry driver as we know it.   The platooning system very much needs the driver to be in control, he needs to be able to join and exit the system to continue the journey and deliver the load.  Platooning saves Fuel

The most likely outcome of the test is a significant improvement in fuel consumption or not only vehicles following in the platoon, but also of the lead vehicle.  Additionally, traffic flow should be smoother when sufficient numbers of vehicles are included.

Tests by Scania have shown that convoy driving using truck “platoons” can reduce fuel consumption by up to 12%.  This could mean a fuel saving per vehicle of some 4,000 litres annually.  This would be able to power a typical family car some 35,000 miles.

“On the test track we’ve driven with a distance of about 10 metres between the vehicles, and we were able to achieve a 12% fuel saving for the trailing vehicle,” says Magnus Adolfson, Scania’s Manager for Intelligent Transport Systems. “If you want to get as close as a couple of metres, then you need several automatic systems that also take control of the steering from the driver during the time that the vehicle is in the truck platoon. That’s also something we’re focusing our research on.”

How Does it Work?

The platooning system uses a combination of existing technologies that have been tweaked to make the system as safe and effective as possible.

Sophisticated Cruise Control

Effectively, the system uses an improved ‘advanced adaptive cruise control’ (ACC), a system that we have enjoyed using on cars for many years now.  Rather than setting a desired speed, the driver selects a desired distance from the vehicle in front which is maintained through the use of radar and cameras.

Driver Aids – Autonomous Braking

Legislation that came into force as recently as November 2015 compels all new trucks over 8 tonnes GVW to be fitted with ‘Autonomous Emergency Braking’ systems – AEB for short.  This means that the driver is taken out of the equation if an accident is likely.

These systems have been fitted to trucks (as an option) for a number of years.  They have clearly proven themselves so effective in stopping the vehicle that they have made their way into legislation.

So we have been able to automatically keep our distance from the moving truck in front and automatically come to an emergency stop for some years.  So what’s new?

Steering by Wire

Volvo Truck (well) controlled by a small hamster

Truck steering systems have become more sophisticated with steering columns becoming a thing of the past with ‘drive by wire’ control. These systems have been wonderfully demonstrated by Volvo Trucks in a series of YouTube videos – one involving a hamster steering a truck by running around a wheel attached to the steering wheel and the second showing a small girl controlling a 32 tonne truck using a remote controller.

Volvo (badly) controlled remotely by 4-year old

Technology that steers trucks using electrical inputs is therefore mainstream and used on our roads every day.

Making it Work

Even if platooning can be made to work technically – safely and reliably – it is of no use unless a system is developed to ‘book a vehicle’ into the convoy.  Simply stumbling across a platoon and tagging along cannot be an option. RHA’s Richard Burnett agrees, “In addition to the concerns of the motorist, is platooning practical for the haulier? Does it make operational sense?” The truck makers are already looking at this. To develop a system to coordinate platoons, Sweden’s Scania is focusing on its COMPANION joint research project with KTH Royal Institute of Technology. The next stage of development involves coordinating truck convoys, thereby making the whole logistics system more efficient. Scania’s researchers are designing a system that allows transport managers to input the routes their vehicles will take, with the system then finding joint routes with other operators who can ‘platoon up’.

An additional issue is related to the length of these platoons and how it might affect other road users.  The maximum length of a tractor unit and trailer combination is currently 16.5 metres in the UK.  Add an extra ten metre gap between a platoon of ten vehicles and you get something that is more than a quarter of a kilometre long.  Would the average UK motorist be able to contend with this moving obstruction when turning off a motorway junction? We have all seen most drivers leaving it to the last minute to turn off after accelerating past slower traffic.  This may therefore lead to platooning in the centre lane or lane three.  Not a popular alternative with car drivers.

UK Leading The Way?

The Department for Transport claims that it would like the UK to ‘lead the way’ in testing platoons.  It is difficult to see this happening when all the manufacturers are based in Sweden, (Volvo, Scania), Germany, (Daimler, MAN), Italy, (Iveco) and France (Renault). However, eight new projects have recently been awarded £20 million in funding from the UK Government to research and develop enhanced communication between vehicles and roadside infrastructure or urban information systems, including new ‘talking car technologies’. Some of this has been awarded to a consortium looking at tyre pressures and safety concerns – an area ignored in the projects to date.

Is the UK a suitable test bed? Our road network is amongst the world’s most congested with the greatest number of junctions.  It is more likely that the UK would be used in the final instance as a ‘stress test’ rather than involved in the fundamental testing process.  It is unlikely that the R&D departments will be upping sticks from Sweden and Germany to spend time in Cumbria.


The UK has the reputation in Europe for being ‘Tail-End Charlie’ in accepting and promoting environmental improvements in commercial vehicle technology.  Germany and others were offering significant financial incentives for truck operators to become early adopters of Euro 6 technologies (and the emissions standards that came before them), whilst the UK government offered a few hundred pounds incentive to invest in new technology, the cost of which ran into the tens of thousands.

Consider also, the levels of support from the relevant governments.  Historically, the UK government has been less than supportive of the UK road haulage industry and we see no reason why this approach should suddenly change.  The level of support from the Netherlands is already far greater than the UK – they have also authorised the testing of platooning on their roads and are actively promoting the system with impressive glossy brochures.

During its Presidency of the European Union in 2016, the Netherlands will put together a European Truck Platooning Challenge. This will involve various brands of automated trucks driving in platoons. The Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, Mrs. drs. M.H. Schultz van Haegen said, “The Netherlands now offers an international testing ground for innovative mobility. Applications for cars and trucks will be warmly welcomed.”

Time will tell if the UK truly gets behind this initiative or is simply paying lip service to a high-tech scheme that is bound to grab headlines.

What Next?

Daimler already have a truck that can actually drive itself.  Sven Ennerst, Head of Truck Product Engineering at Daimler is the man behind the Future Truck 2025 Mercedes-Benz program which takes platooning one step further.


In May last year, their Highway Pilot autonomous truck control system won approval for trials on public highways in a (Daimler) Freightliner truck in the US state of Nevada. Then in October 2015, the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg approved trials of Mercedes-Benz trucks with the Highway Pilot system on its autobahns.

Ennerst says, “We expect a change in the organisation of the freight forwarding industry. The driver will take over many of the traffic planner’s functions. He will become more of a transport manager than a driver, from our point of view.” “One thing is for sure – the Highway Pilot system is steering the vehicle by itself. It builds a picture around the truck, looking up to 250 metres ahead, so basically it can react and drive by itself.”

Ennerst is equally concerned about the fuel efficiency of the trucks, “We are fighting like hell for every tenth of one per cent in truck efficiency gains at present,” he says. “We expect a fuel economy improvement of up to five per cent with trucks like this, as a result of less acceleration and braking and less waiting in traffic.”

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