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BBC's Nick Robinson BOOED by Jeremy Corbyn supporters

Speaking to Trade Unionists, Mr Loach said he regularly 'punished himself' by listening to 'biased' Nick Robinson present the Today programme.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 2:33 pm

Harrowing 999 of flatmate who found Alice Ruggles

Alice Ruggles was murdered by her ex-boyfriend Harry Dhillon at her home in Gateshead after he left her terrified with a campaign of stalking and harassment.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 2:32 pm

'Isis inspired' student 'left bomb on tube train'

Damon Smith, 20, left the device packed with ball bearings to act like shrapnel in a rucksack on an eastbound Jubilee line train at London Bridge on October 20 last year.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 2:32 pm

'Psycho' soldier GUILTY of ex Alice Ruggles murder

A jury found Trimaan 'Harry' Dhillon guilty of the brutal attack on Alice Ruggles at her home in Gateshead, which came after a campaign of harassment and stalking.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 2:31 pm

British woman hit by hammock that fell from NY skyscraper

A British tourist was injured Tuesday in Manhattan when she was struck in the head and back by a hammock that was swept off a nearby fifth-floor terrace in the high winds.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 2:29 pm

Going to NHS hospital on a weekend may be deadly

Patients who are admitted to hospital at the weekend are more likely to die within 30 days. The latest findings of 133 NHS Trusts support evidence of a so-called NHS 'weekend effect.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 2:24 pm

Chelsea drawn into tax probe - Newcastle, West Ham raided

EXCLUSIVE: Premier League leaders Chelsea have been questioned by HMRC officials in connection with the raids on West Ham United and Newcastle United this morning.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 2:19 pm

BBC's Jeremy Vine in new road rage storm in Kensington

BBC presenter Jeremy Vine (inset) has been caught up in another road rage row after a motorist shouted 'f*** your mum' while he was cycling on a busy London street - but who was at fault?
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 2:18 pm

Fire breaks out at a Cancer Research centre in Manchester

Huge plumes of smoke can be seen billowing from the building next to the Christie Hospital in Manchester, which has been evacuated.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 2:16 pm

David Cameron takes aim at Donald Trump in speech

The former Prime Minister has embarked on the lucrative career since leaving No 10 last June - raking in as much as £120,000 for a one-hour speech.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 2:13 pm

London moped gang blast passer-by with fire extinguisher

A video shows the gang spraying restaurant diners, commuters and a police car with white powder as they mount pavements and drive erratically through streets in south London.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 2:06 pm

Footballer worked as nanny so he could abuse boys

Jose Castellano-Gonzales, 25, from Tenerife, advertised himself as an au pair, using the glamour of his career in Spain to attract families with football-mad sons.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 1:52 pm

Gina Miller urges 'tactical' election votes to curb Brexit

The businesswoman and former model unveiled her latest campaign to limit the impact of leaving the EU after Theresa May urged voters to give her a 'mandate' for looming talks with Brussels.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 1:43 pm

Family dash to Kyle Ewart left for dead in Australia

Kyle Ewart, from Macclesfield, was found with serious head injuries in Adelaide on April 12 and is suffering from amnesia. The father of two is being treated for a fractured skull.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 1:40 pm

Earl sparks fury in Devon village over broadband row

Local residents in Upton Pyne, Devon, have accused the 5th Earl of Iddesleigh, John Stafford Northcote, 60, of being 'ridiculous' for not allowing BT permission to complete the work.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 1:35 pm

Karen Danczuk's new look as she 'stops taking selfies'

Karen Danczuk told MailOnline she is a 'new person' as she launched her campaign to run for Labour in the Bury North seat at the upcoming General Election.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 1:33 pm

Joey Barton BANNED from football for 18 months for betting

Joey Barton has been suspended from football and football activity for 18 months. The Burnley midfielder had admitted an FA misconduct charge in relation to betting.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 1:33 pm

Loughborough mother’s fury after son is branded overweight

Charlotte Moncur, 27, from Loughborough, was given a letter from the school as part of the controversial National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP).
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 1:23 pm

Kim Jong-Un's army fires rockets at mock enemy warships

Kim Jong-Un watched the exercises on Tuesday, which saw the firing of more than 300 large-calibre artillery pieces and included submarine torpedo-attacks in North Korea.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 1:22 pm

Heathrow Airport travellers are hit with £120 of fines

Travellers paid up to £150 a week for parking workers to leave their motors in a secure space while they jetted off from Heathrow Airport over the Easter weekend - but returned to find them covered in fines.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 1:16 pm

Police launch raids against ‘schoolboy carjacking gang'

Officers from West Midlands Police arrested two 16-year-old boys in Birmingham this morning as part of raids aimed at tackling a 'schoolboy carjacking gang' in the city.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 1:13 pm

Man reels in a monster 450lb SHARK in Cornwall

Jay Oxenham (pictured), 46, from Berkshire, caught the enormous porbeagle, which is related to the deadly Great White, one mile from shore.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 1:11 pm

Assange hits out at Trump's vow to crack down on WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lambasted Donald Trump's administration for threatening to crack down on the website because it had revealed their own failings.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 12:56 pm

Iraqi immigrant stabbed brother's girlfriend a week

Diana Pranskuniene, 36, was walking along a high street in Portsmouth when Dier Mohammed, 43, (pictured) ambushed and attacked her with a kitchen knife, which missed her heart by less than an inch.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 12:44 pm

Heston Blumenthal is granted divorce from wife of 28 years

Michelin starred chef Heston Blumenthal and his now ex-wife Zanna have divorced after 28 years of marriage - but six years after they split up.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 12:34 pm

Tycoon blocks neighbour's three storey iceberg basement

Stelio Stefanou, 63, objected to his neighbours' plans for a three-storey super-basement underneath a listed building in Charles Street, Mayfair.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 12:33 pm

Warden ‘tries to ticket car with UNCONSCIOUS driver’

A traffic warden was allegedly spotted putting a ticket on a car in Folkestone, Kent, while the elderly driver was 'slumped over unconscious' inside the vehicle.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 12:33 pm

Home where Isambard Kingdom Brunel worked up for sale

Cleveland house, pictured was built 200 years ago and spent was the former home of the Kennet and Avon Canal Company where Isambard Kingdom Brunel worked before moving to the Great Western Railway company.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 12:30 pm

Schoolboy died after eating a piece of chicken in London

Owen Carey, pictured, died after eating a piece of chicken while in London celebrating his 18th birthday alongside his girlfriend Martha, who cradled him as he passed away.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 12:28 pm

Katie Price says the N-word TWICE on live TV

Making an appearance on ITV's This Morning, she first uttered the racial epithet when she revealed that her offspring was described as a 'black blind n***er'.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 12:23 pm

Owen Nichol who STAMPED on a newborn calf spared jailed

Owen Nichol (pictured), 19, from Taunton in Somerset, kicked cows in the face and shouted, 'Come on you f****** t***' before stamping on a newborn calf seven times.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 12:15 pm

Nicola Sturgeon attacks Theresa May over pensions

Scotland’s First Minister tore into her rivals as she hit the campaign trail in Stirling for speeding up the timetable for raising the pension age for women.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 12:14 pm

Labour Brexit champion Gisela Stuart slams her party

Gisela Stuart (pictured) said Brexit was the best chance since World War II to renew Britain's politics but warned Labour was wasting the opportunity.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 12:03 pm

Faulty Beko fridge-freezer sparked fire that killed man

John Wilson, pictured with wife Hazel, died three days after the fall from his home in Greater Manchester with the blaze sparked by a faulty Beko fridge-freezer, an inquest in Stockport ruled.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 11:50 am

Battersea stabbing is fourth death this week in London

A young man in his 20s was stabbed to death Wandsworth Commonl in South London where homes cost up to £4 million. A nearby Australian au pair tried to save the man's life.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 11:50 am

Video which shows cops threatening to kill an unarmed man

An officer held a gun to James Yarborough's head in Charlotte, North Carolina, before he was Tasered. Footage also shows cops punching and elbowing him.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 11:44 am

Hummus crisis?

After two supermarkets recall some of their ranges, we look at the UK's love affair with the dip.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 11:40 am

London tour bus driver ‘shoved cyclist off bike'

Paul Birchmore, 43, allegedly clipped Angus Fitzgerald’s back wheel three times as he drove a Big Bus Tours double decker northbound over Waterloo Bridge on July 29 last year.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 11:39 am

Christie hospital fire: Blaze in cancer research unit

The research unit attached to the world-renowned Christie cancer hospital has been evacuated.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 11:36 am

McDonnell hails 'chance to elect a socialist’

The shadow chancellor branded modern capitalism a 'failed experiment' and said many self-employed people were effectively 'serfs'.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 11:28 am

Dog almost chokes on a NAIL hidden in a piece of meat

Accounts clerk Tracy Hollinshead, 46, of Preston, Lancashire, was out walking her dog Ruby in a park when she discovered the animal had a foreign object stuck in her mouth.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 11:27 am

Wealthy Pakistani asylum seekers jailed six months apart

Syed Zaidi, 41, and his wife Rizwana Kamal, 40, pictured, claimed they were persecuted at home so flew to Britain with their family begging the Home Office to give them food and shelter in Manchester.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 11:26 am

Police warn Blue Whale 'suicide' game is heading to the UK

A school in Basildon has warned parents about the challenge after talks with Essex Police. The game has been linked to the death of Russian teen Yulia Konstantinova (pictured).
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 11:24 am

NHS blunders 'led to 4,200 deaths' last year

The shocking figures, obtained under Freedom of Information rules, include at least 74 occasions when surgeons operated on the wrong part of a person's body.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 11:20 am

RAF leader ‘may have feared discussing his mental health'

Gillian De Candole, from Bristol, is calling on the military to offer more support for flyers after the death of her squadron leader husband Nicholas 'Candles' De Candole (pictured).
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 11:20 am

'Naked' homes that come with nothing BUT the kitchen sink

The homes in Enfield, north London, will have no bathrooms, flooring or plastering, but they will be available for as little as £150,000 - less than a third of the average property price in the area.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 11:14 am

Sunderland boss David Moyes charged by FA for slap comment

Sunderland boss David Moyes has been charged by the Football Association over comments he made to BBC journalist Vicki Sparks after his side's draw with Burnley.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 11:10 am

Jet set pets

From turkeys to pandas ... when animals need transporting they catch a flight just like us.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 10:59 am

Hotel boss hits back at 'arrogant and aggressive' reviewer

Sefton Park Hotel in Liverpool, which averages 3.5 stars, was criticised by a guest from Zurich who complained that his curtains only drew over less than half of his window.
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 10:54 am

Benefits cheat mother-of-five pretended to be single mum

Mona Miller, 37, of Cardiff was caught out after she boasted on Facebook: 'I got my man and kids that's all that matters to me without them I'd have nothing.'
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Posted: April 26, 2017, 10:52 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

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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