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Winter pressure 'busts NHS budget'

A deficit of £900m has been racked up by NHS trusts as they struggle to cope during the 'challenging winter'.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 2:51 pm

Brexit: Lords to begin debating bill to trigger Article 50

Opposition peers could seek guarantees on the bill paving the way for the UK to leave EU.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 2:42 pm

UKIP officials quit in Hillsborough row

Two party branch chairmen say comments about the disaster are "upsetting and intolerable".
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 2:32 pm

Council tax to rise while services cut, says LGA

Bin collections and libraries could be among services cut, despite council tax rises of up to 4.99%.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 2:24 pm

Drusillas Park's lorikeets killed by rat poison

The zoo admitted 11 rainbow lorikeets were killed after toxic bait was put underground in their enclosure.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 1:55 pm

UK Vauxhall pensions 'could scupper GM Peugeot sale'

The carmaker's pension scheme is one of the UK's largest and is estimated to have a £1bn deficit.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 1:48 pm

Yorkshire Tea teapots recalled after 'breakages during brewing'

Customers reported the products' bases were cracking as they made tea.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 1:02 pm

Croydon tram crash victims 'ejected through windows'

A second report into the fatal tram crash in Croydon also shows the brakes and track were not faulty.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 12:57 pm

George Harrison's Porsche to be sold at auction

A 37-year-old car, bought for parts by a man unaware of its Beatles link, is to be auctioned.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 12:19 pm

Police officers hurt breaking up 'youngsters party' fight

Five people were arrested at the party, which police said had "all gone a little wrong".
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 12:15 pm

21/7 bombers prosecutor Max Hill QC appointed terror laws watchdog

Max Hill QC, who successfully prosecuted the failed 21/7 bombers, will take up the role in March.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 12:08 pm

Parents have two sets of twins born on same day

Parents who had twin girls on the same day as their older twins say they have beaten odds of tens of million to one.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 11:37 am

'Anxious and excited'

SS-GB star Sam Riley says he is 'anxious and excited' about how the BBC wartime drama will perform.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 10:46 am

Could Glasgow Prestwick airport host UK's first spaceport?

Could the UK be going where it has never been before? Detailed plans to create the country's first spaceports are set to be unveiled.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 10:09 am

The people v Trump: Do Brits back him?

As MPs prepare to debate US President Donald Trump's state visit to the UK, the BBC asks people in Birmingham if the love or loathe him.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 9:39 am

Michael Watson talks of 'frightening, violent carjacking bid'

Former world title contender Michael Watson says he was dragged along the road in the attack.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 9:17 am

Great Yarmouth church saved by 'exploded' bric-a-brac

Chairs, records and toys are among the items dangling from the ceiling of St John's Church.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 8:14 am

Walls of sound

Forty blue plaques will be unveiled on BBC Music Day this year - and you can decide who gets one.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 7:58 am

Dancing, drinking and snogging: The Wild Party kicks off new theatre for musicals

How a debauched all-nighter is kicking off proceedings at Andrew Lloyd Webber's newest theatre.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 6:09 am

Gunners in sight

Meet Sutton United's team as they prepare to take on Arsenal in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 5:23 am

Newspaper headlines: Brexit 'blackmail' and 'plotting' peers

Stories on pre-negotiation warnings from European politicians and to "remainer" peers make the front pages.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 5:18 am

Putin's critic who fell into a coma leaves Russia

Journalist and pro-democracy activist Vladimir Kara-Murza (pictured) nearly died two years ago after a 'toxic influence of an unknown substance' caused his kidneys to fail.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 4:48 am

NHS cuts 15,000 beds in six years

The dramatic reduction – equivalent to closing 24 hospitals – amounts to a 10 per cent fall in NHS beds at a time when the health service is under unprecedented pressure.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 4:10 am

Separated from your mobile can lead to PTSD

Children are as panicked being separated from their smartphones as they are being separated from their parents and develop patterns associated with PTSD, according to new research.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 3:33 am

Manchester United's Phil Jones sacked his cleaners

Phil Jones, pictured, who is on £80,000 a week, sacked Nigel and Angela Stubbs in November having spent three years working for the Manchester United star and his fiancee Kayla Hall.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 2:36 am

Gap between low and high income households widens

Families earning £1,500 or less a month have an average of £95 in savings. High income families of £5,501 a month have a typical savings pot of £62,885. London families have the most put away.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 2:01 am

Sir Edward Heath accusers also claim parents ran sex cult

The farce came as police probe incredible claims that the prime minister was linked to a paedophile ring that killed as many as 16 children – making them the worst child murderers in British history if true.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 1:54 am

ALEX BRUMMER: Hallelujah! Unilever brawl is over

The £115billion brawl over control of the British-Dutch consumer products group Unilever has ended in the first round. The would-be buyer, Kraft Heinz, has thrown in the towel.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 1:49 am

How old men taking over world reveal secret of success

The lesson DOMINIC LAWSON take from the achievements of older men is not that they are especially clever but that their character means they have energy that barely diminishes with age.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 1:38 am

Children ‘watched their father stab their mother to death'

Police and an air ambulance rushed to the scene of a double stabbing in Cheshunt in Hertfordshire. Pictures on social media show police vans and an air ambulance at the scene.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 1:32 am

Iraqi forces launch push to retake western Mosul from ISIS

Iraqi government soldiers swiftly retook at least five villages and set their sights on Mosul airport, marking a new phase in Iraq's largest military operation in years.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 1:32 am

India doesn't need British aid, says new High Commissioner

Britain sent India £279million in 2014 alone – despite the fact the country has its own space programme and is planning to spend £10billion on a fleet of warships.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 1:28 am

Oxford University considering Paris campus for EU cash

French officials met with senior staff at Oxford University to discuss proposals. The 'satellite' campus could have French legal status making it still eligible for EU funding.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 1:28 am

4m could flee Afghanistan if Britain pulls out of country

Sir Michael Fallon said Britain cannot pull troops from Afghanistan because the terrorist groups that existed there when soldiers deployed in 2001 remain and ‘still pose a threat’.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 1:24 am

Inside the Kim Kardashian heist crime scene

A French television network screened images of the crime scene showing gaffer tape used to bind the star's hands, the gag used to silence her and a video of the robbers.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 1:23 am

Council tax rises for social care will be swallowed up

The ex-Chancellor’s policy, which will see the minimum wage rise to £9 an hour by 2020, will have a huge burden on firms and councils that employ care workers, as they often paid very little.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 1:20 am

Now Javid claims fury is just based on 'myths'

Sajid Javid risked enraging small firms last night after he wrote an extraordinary letter insisting the row over business rates was based on myths.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 1:08 am

Lords told to declare EU pensions ahead of Brexit debate

More than 20 peers who worked in Brussels built up lavish EU pensions. They include Labour’s Lord Mandelson who will receive almost £35,000 a year thanks to his former job as trade commissioner.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 1:07 am

Scottish police find body in search for missing boy

A major search was launched after the child was reported missing from a property in the Milton of Drimmie area, close to Bridge of Cally in Perthshire at around 11.15am on Sunday.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 12:57 am

Scottish police find body in search for missing boy

A major search was launched after the child was reported missing from a property in the Milton of Drimmie area, close to Bridge of Cally in Perthshire at around 11.15am on Sunday.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 12:57 am

Supermarket chains to get a £200m business rates cut

Superstores operated by Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons are set to benefit while smaller high street retailers will be charged an average of 3.7 per cent more, costing them tens of millions.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 12:56 am

Iceberg water costing £80 a BOTTLE goes on sale 

Svalbardi water is sourced from icebergs in an archipelago between northern Norway and the North Pole and only enough to fill 13,000 bottles is harvested at a time.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 12:54 am

Promote women to top roles or we'll cut links, Aviva warns

The subcontractors are thought to include recruitment firms and insurance providers. The warning was aimed at those not involved in initiatives such as 30 per cent Club.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 12:27 am

Waste giant backs deposit scheme for plastic bottles

Germany and Sweden already operate a successful deposit scheme. Whitehall insiders suggest ministers are sceptical of a similar plan for England. 15m bottles are not recycled every day.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 12:20 am

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Anything to declare, Lord Mandelson?

Like an 18th Century aristocrat planning a last stand against the peasantry, Labour’s Lord Mandelson calls on his fellow ermined Peers to join him in sabotaging the Brexit Bill.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 12:19 am

Hitler's telephone sells for £161,000

The phone recovered from Hitler's bunker went to an unknown bidder at the auction by Alexander Historical Auctions in Maryland.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 12:14 am

Britain's first spaceports set for lift off

The new SpaceFlight bill could see space ports established across the UK as early as 2020. Ministers have hailed the sector as the 'future of the British economy' and wants the UK at the global forefront.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 12:07 am

Attenborough's back for Blue Planet II... at age of 91!

After 65 years in TV Sir David Attenborough shows no signs of slowing down. Following the success of Planet Earth II the broadcaster will now work on a sequel to the Blue Planet.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 12:06 am

Cake or biscuit?

It's a delicious structure consisting of sponge, chocolate and orange jelly. But is a Jaffa Cake actually a biscuit? And what can it teach us about philosophy?
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 12:06 am

Cancer mother claims her baby son saved her life

Sarah Boyle, 26, from Staffordshire, says she was encouraged to undergo a biopsy after her son Teddy, now one, repeatedly rejected her right breast while feeding.
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Posted: February 20, 2017, 12:04 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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