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British pop legend in teen rape probe 'petrified'

The singer, who cannot be named in the UK for legal reasons, was revealed as the alleged offender on news websites in other countries. File photo posed by model.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 9:21 pm

Man killed at motocross rally in County Durham

The deceased man, who has not yet been identified, suffered critical injuries after he came off his bike in front of hundreds of spectators near Sedgefield at around 1pm on Sunday afternoon.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 9:16 pm

Girl, six, and a 29-year-old man die in Derbyshire crash

A father and daughter have died while a woman is fighting for her life in hospital after a car flipped over and hit a barrier in the early hours of this morning in Belper, Derbyshire.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 9:15 pm

Incredible strength of Spina Bifida sufferer

Jose Crisol had to have his legs amputated, but that didn't stop the 32-year-old from San Francisco putting himself through a serious workout to improve his upper body strength (pictured).
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 8:52 pm

Prince Charles persuades Waitrose to sell seaweed oatcake

Charles, who started his Duchy Originals organic food business in 1992, came up with the concept and convinced the brand's partner Waitrose to sell it. He says it is 'very goof with cheese'.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 8:47 pm

Cat knocks feline rival into London's River Thames

Felix the cat had a less-then-stellar bank holiday weekend when she was dunked into the Thames by a rival. Fortunately a helping human was on hand to rescue her (pictured).
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 8:44 pm

Hijab wearing woman storms Ukip's General Election launch

The animated woman wearing a burka burst into London's Marriott County Hall hotel on Friday where leader Paul Nuttall was speaking. She yelled: 'They are racist and they do target Muslim women.'
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 8:39 pm

Wife fears she got terminal cancer from inhaling asbestos

Mrs Coates, 64, from Newcastle has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. She is now appealing for information.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 8:35 pm

Mother-of-three left devastated over her husband's affair

Sam and Chris Stokes took their devastated sister-in-law Jo 'under their wing' when Allan Huskisson lost his battle with throat cancer. But now Chris has left his wife Sam for Jo.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 8:32 pm

Donald Trump invites Roderigo Duterte to the White House

Donald Trump spoke to Rodrigo Duterte on the telephone and invited him to the White House. Trump is due to travel to the Philippines himself for a regional summit in November.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 8:30 pm

Theresa May says VAT will NOT go up under the Tories

The Prime Minister made the promise on sales duty as she insisted voters could trust the Tories to reduce their burden.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 8:19 pm

DAN HODGES: They're laughing at Corbyn even in Cox's seat

Tracy Brabin, the former Coronation Street actress, succeeded Jo Cox in the Batley and Spen by-election that was essentially a memorial campaign.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 8:18 pm

Corbyn vows more power for unions as he plots tax hikes

The veteran left-winger made clear his determination to return to Old Labour values as he unveiled a package designed to bolster his union paymasters.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 8:16 pm

Theresa May warns only 'strong' PM can face down the EU

The Prime Minister urged voters to consider the 'national interest' when they decide whether she or Jeremy Corbyn should be in charge after June 8.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 8:15 pm

Police monitoring TWO MORE ISIS London terror attacks

Anti-terror officers in London are closely monitoring the 'active' plots, which are thought to be ISIS-inspired. It comes after police foiled two terror plots in the space of five hours on Thursday.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 8:10 pm

Amir Khan's wife vows not to back down in family feud

Faryal Makhdoom (pictured at a charity event with Amir last night) said that she 'doesn't give a s**t'  about the ongoing row, because the Bolton boxer always comes home to her.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 8:00 pm

Moors Murderers Ian Brady Myra Hindley Keith Bennett

Love letters between Myra Hindley and Ian Brady could contain clues which may lead to the discovery their last victim', Keith Bennett.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 7:55 pm

Car crash kills two at 'Death Hill' accident blackspot 

The crash happened on the A20 London Road close at the junction of Eglantine Lane on the outskirts of the village of Farningham near Dartford, Kent just after 1.20am on Sunday.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 7:50 pm

Police hunt gunman after homeowner is shot dead in his bed

The incident happened in Ringwood, on the border of Hampshire and Dorset, in the early hours of this morning. It was believed that the gunman opened fire after being disturbed at the house.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 7:14 pm

Thousands of Cambridge University students descend on park

More than 2,000 undergraduates from the prestigious university spent the afternoon playing drinking games in fancy dress on Jesus Green in Cambridge.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 6:34 pm

Stop fighting war that's over says Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill

Sinn Féin's Stormont leader defends her decision to attend a commemoration for eight IRA men shot dead by the SAS.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 6:31 pm

Man dead and woman hurt at Sedgefield motocross event

Police decided to close the privately-run event on safety grounds following the two incidents.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 6:04 pm

Expat Briton jailed for life after slashing woman to death

Robert Plant, 36, from Dartford, Kent, found guilty of killing Joudia Zimmat, 34 from Nimes, Languedoc-Roussillon. He dragged Mrs Zimmat to the ground and sexually abused her.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 5:11 pm

Swiss climber Ueli Steck is killed on Mount Everest

Steck was killed in a mountaineering accident on Mount Everest in Nepal after slipping and falling 3,280 ft down the mountain, severing his body into bits and pieces on the rough terrain.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 5:01 pm

General election 2017: May says Tories would not raise VAT

The prime minister also declines to back David Cameron's 2015 pledge for a "five-year tax lock".
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 4:10 pm

Family forced to live in hotels costing taxpayers £88,000

Luke and Olga burns, and their children Lolita, Alina and Nicolas, have spent the past three years living in hotels after Bristol City Council rejected their housing application in 2014.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 3:52 pm

Antony Stevens recruits a team full of Stevens for match

The charity rugby game raised £5,000 for the Parkinson's Foundation.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 3:42 pm

Toddler laughs as five firefighters try to free him

Brandon Emery, 14 months, can be seen bearing a huge grin as he clutches the steering wheel of his mother's Rover Streetwise after locking himself inside in a car park in Cornwall.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 3:27 pm

Jilted mistress breaks into married ex-lover's hotel room

Dawn Brookfield, 53, from Knowle, West Midlands, threatened a married man in his hotel room in York, littering the room with presents and bottles of champagne. She also stalked his wife.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 3:10 pm

Indian politician gives new brides bats to beat husbands

Indian government minister Gopal Bhargava handed out the first 700 bats to women getting married in Madya Pradesh and told them to 'let the wooden paddles do the talking' if their husbands become abusive.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 3:07 pm

Man shot dead after intruders enter house in St Ives

Dorset Police were called to reports intruders had entered a house in the early hours.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 3:01 pm

Three teenagers hurl bricks and bottles at police

The youths were seen running across house rooftops in Newcastle at 10.30 this morning. Dramatic pictures show seven police officers in full riot gear trying to get the youths down.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 3:00 pm

Woman arrested after being shot by police

The woman shot in a London raid is held on suspicion of terror offences after hospital treatment.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 2:56 pm

Corbyn: 'Low taxes for low earners'

The Labour leader says the party wants to change tax policies at the top end of the earnings scale.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 2:53 pm

Zombie Elvis in 'world's dullest' marathon

Simon Goldsmith runs 17 times around a village after failing to secure a London Marathon place.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 2:38 pm

David Cameron buys £25,000 garden shed 'to write in'

The former prime minister says he wants to use the shepherd's hut to write a book.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 2:16 pm

Illegal immigrants found on boat in trouble at Orford

The Coastguard was called out when the yacht got into trouble in high winds.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 2:15 pm

Thug walks free from court after staff forget witness dock

A thug from Sunderland on trial for smashing up his home was allowed to walk free after court officials forget to call his ex-girlfriend and witness, Ellen Batty, to give crucial evidence against him.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 2:09 pm

Jeremy Corbyn pledges to plug 'school funding black hole'

Labour's Jeremy Corbyn tells head teachers he will plug a £3bn gap in school funding in England.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 1:55 pm

British tourist arrested over murder of woman in Benidorm

The 27-year-old woman had travelled to the Costa Blanca resort with a group of around 35 female friends before plunging to her death from the tenth floor of a Little England flat on Saturday.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 1:54 pm

Killer who murdered British teacher in Qatar loses appeal

Lauren Patterson, 24, was sexually assualted and stabbed in Doha, Qatar, in 2013. Badr Hashim Khamis Abdallah al-Jabr was sentenced to death for the murder but tried to appeal against the ruling.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 12:47 pm

Driver caught a U-turn on a busy road ramming car

This is the bizarre moment a driver with a severe bout of road rage conducts a U-turn on a busy road before ramming into father of two, Johnathon Steward's on the A140 between Diss and Norwich.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 12:47 pm

Spanish police smash drug smuggling ring

Police in southern Spain have arrested thirty members of the 'Chestnuts' gang, who smuggled drugs across the Straits of Gibraltar. Officers seized weapons and money (pictured)
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 12:38 pm

Inside the cellar of horrors where escort robbed OAP

Susan Garside, 53, and her lover Anthony Miller, 53, from Merseyside, betrayed the old man who thought they were his friends.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 12:10 pm

Lindsey Kushner QC said dangerous men target drunk women

Lindsey Kushner QC said dangerous men targeted women who weren't sober. The judge, 65, said she had planned her warning at Manchester Crown Court when she jailed a rapist for six years.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 11:49 am

Damian Lewis on Billions, Obama and The Goat

The actor talks about his "shocking" play... and does a pretty good Obama impression.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 11:44 am

Prime suspect in Madeleine McCann case 'is a WOMAN'

The source says the woman was spotted near the Algarve apartments she was staying in on the night that she disappeared and could be 'the key to solving the entire case'.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 11:21 am

Mum-of-two claims to see the 'Beast of Burford'

Mother-of-two Lisa London, 43, was driving down a country road in Upper Arncott, not far from Burford, last week when she claimed to see the black panther, strolling down the road.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 10:39 am

Kate McCann feels 'guilty' over £11million cost

Kate McCann has said she feels 'guilty' that other parents haven't had the same amount of money and publicity put in to the search for their missing children, while Gerry said the criticism was 'unfair'.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 10:30 am

M8 'missing link' opens fully to traffic

Vehicles have been allowed on to the eastbound carriageway of the new motorway for the first time.
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Posted: April 30, 2017, 10:22 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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