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Thompson refuse to refund holidaymaker over Kos earthquake

Gary Taylor, 51, of Devon, said Thomson had refused to refund a £2,800 holiday to Kos he is due to take his family on next week because they claimed the earthquake-hit island was safe.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 3:25 pm

David J Slater says famous monkey selfie ruined him

Dave Slater was battling 45-degree heat in Indonesia, 50 miles from the Equator, carrying camera equipment and soggy Jaffa Cakes for sustenance when he saw the monkey.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 3:18 pm

Diana: by Ken Wharfe, the bodyguard who saw everything

As the personal protection officer to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, Ken Wharfe (inset) was in charge of round-the-clock security at home and abroad, from 1987 until 1993.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 3:17 pm

Can Sir Mo Farah's sack race record be broken?

Hold onto your sack - Stephen Wildish is going to try to break the world record.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 12:45 pm

Aw' right?

Dick Van Dyke said sorry for his "atrocious" British accent in Mary Poppins, but has there been worse?
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 12:23 pm

Mike Grimshaw death: Teenager released on bail

Mike Grimshaw, 34, died after being stabbed in the neck on Thursday in Sale, Greater Manchester.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 12:11 pm

John Hesp from Bridlington wins £2m in world poker contest

The semi-retired businessman usually plays in £10 entry tournaments in his home casino in Hull.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 12:01 pm

Holiday flight departs after 38-hour delay

A flight from Aberdeen to Portugal has finally taken off after being delayed since early on Thursday morning.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 11:52 am

Boots apologises for morning-after pill response

The company says it is looking for cheaper morning-after pill options - after initially saying it didn't want to "incentivise inappropriate use".
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 11:10 am

Two face rape and slavery charges in Southampton

The charges come after a woman was "repeatedly raped" at a house in Southampton.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 11:08 am

Corrie Mckeague: Mother considers landfill injunction

Nicola Urquhart says she wants to stop police filling a landfill where she thinks her son's body is.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 11:05 am

Ever played UV football?

It's indoor football, but not as you know it.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 10:52 am

First class could be cut on busy trains, says Grayling

The transport secretary is "absolutely" committed to scrapping first class seats on commuter routes.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 10:49 am

Britain's Got Talent star Pudsey the dog is dead

Owner Ashleigh Butler, who won the ITV talent show with Pudsey in 2012, said on Instagram today that she was 'heartbroken' at the passing of her dog aged 11.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 10:48 am

Prince George

From newborn baby to his first day at nursery, the pictures that show how Prince George has grown up.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 10:19 am

Carol Vorderman spotted with tattooed younger builder

Just a year ago, twice-divorced Carol Vorderman vowed she had gone off men and was happily single. The TV presenter is dating Cas Neill, 49, a toned divorcee with two full-arm tattoo ‘sleeves’.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 10:15 am

Prince George photo is released for his fourth birthday

On the eve of Prince George's fourth birthday, his parents have released an adorable portrait of their son at Kensington Palace, in which he flashes a gap-toothed grin for the camera.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 8:52 am

Norfolk Broads python discovery mystery

A 12ft-long python found on the Norfolk Broads has still not been found.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 8:49 am

The Secret Garden Party closes its doors after 15 years

The Secret Garden Party, held in Abbots Ripton close to Huntingdon, will finish after 15 years.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 8:45 am

Children in temporary housing up a third since 2014

Councils say child homelessness has reached unsustainable levels with the numbers rising sharply.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 8:43 am

Bob Geldof's greatest success, Tiger Lily, turns 21

Tiger Lily HutchenceGeldof, orphaned daughter of Paula Yates and Michael Hutchence has avoided the public eye but recently posed naked for British photographer Kate Bellm.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 7:09 am

Newspaper headlines: Some first class trains to end and Boots boycott call

The end of some two-tier rail travel, and a Boots boycott call make newspaper headlines.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 4:14 am

'It changed me'

Dominic Hurley is regularly mistaken for being drunk, but his slurred speech and poor balance is the result of a brain injury following a moped crash in Ayia Napa.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 2:49 am

From Pop Idol to Love Island: Is reality TV still relevant?

The format has been around for more than 20 years.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 2:19 am

Gang member says using chemicals in muggings is 'win-win'

Former gang member 'Off'' from Newham (left) said his gang favoured acid as a weapon; pictured are acid attack victims Resham Khan (top right), Isobella Fraser (middle), Jabed Hussain (bottom r).
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 1:46 am

UKIP Michelle Brown calls Labour MP Chuka Umunna a coconut

Michelle Brown, a UKIP Assembly Member in North Wales, described Mr Umunna as 'black on the outside, white on the inside' while speaking to her former senior adviser Nigel Williams.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 1:35 am

Killer earthquake and tsunami hits Greece and Turkey

Huge crowds were seen outside Kos International Airport as holidaymakers attempted to leave the Greek island early having been told not to go back in to their hotels.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 1:09 am

Public sector pay rises may be linked to where you live

Chancellor Philip Hammond has asked officials to look at linking pay awards to the cost of living as he tries to balance demands for higher pay against the need to keep spending under control.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 1:00 am

Families left stranded after £10,000 villas did not exist

Ann Sizer, her family and friends thought they had booked a luxurious villa in Tenerife for £6,000 with Luxury Canarian Rentals but were devastated when they found out it was a scam.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 12:55 am

Judge discharges juror after she asked if DS was single

The four-month Old Bailey trial into an alleged Birmingham-based terror cell was halted as Mr Justice Globe was about to finish his summing up and send jurors out to begin deliberating verdicts.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 12:50 am

Newsnight's Emily Maitlis' agent slams BBC pay

Alex Armitage tweeted that his client's exclusion from the pay list was 'beyond madness' after the cooperation published a list of its stars' salaries.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 12:45 am

New cancer drugs turn patients' gray hair BROWN

While chemotherapy is notorious for making hair fall out, the 14 patients involved in this report were all being treated with a new form of drugs called immunotherapy, which work differently.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 12:29 am

British student reveals how room shook in Kos earthquake

British student Naomi Ruddock, 22, from Brighton, was asleep in her hotel room on the Greek island of Kos when she was woken by the earthquake and the room started shaking.
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Posted: July 22, 2017, 12:10 am

Boots 'truly sorry' in morning-after pill row

Campaigners had urged the chemist to cut the cost amid claims that British women are forced to pay up to five times more than those in Europe for the contraceptive but Boots refused.
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Posted: July 21, 2017, 11:55 pm

Marvyn Iheanacho found guilty of murdering Alex Malcolm

Marvyn Iheanacho, 39, had a history of violence, including six convictions for domestic abuse after attacking five partners and a child. Despite his record, the was allowed to look after Alex Malcolm, five.
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Posted: July 21, 2017, 11:50 pm

The wettest summer

Victims of the 2007 summer floods share their memories a decade on.
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Posted: July 21, 2017, 11:50 pm

Good Housekeeping Institute: Rid garage of clutter

Garages ends up crammed with clutter – with little room for the car. But families shouldn’t be leaving household items there, say domestic experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute.
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Posted: July 21, 2017, 11:44 pm

'Hundreds' of undiscovered caves underneath Nottingham

Archaeologist Scott Lomax uncovered his 152nd new cave in the city in just 12 months.
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Posted: July 21, 2017, 11:37 pm

Jet2 airline charges you to bring on hand luggage

Jet2 introduced a fee to ‘guarantee’ that cabin baggage does not go in the hold and prices start at £2.59 per person per bag each way, so a couple would add at least another £10 to their fare.
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Posted: July 21, 2017, 11:33 pm

Princess Power

England's women's footballers are calling for girls to recognise the strong traits in the characters.
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Posted: July 21, 2017, 11:20 pm

Spirit of 1973

When England's women won the first Cricket World Cup in 1973 they did it solely for the love of the game.
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Posted: July 21, 2017, 11:15 pm

UK to bring in drone registration

Drone owners will also be required to pass a safety awareness test.
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Posted: July 21, 2017, 11:07 pm

Britain’s Got Talent champion dog Pudsey dies

He was the first dog to win the show, alongside owner Ashleigh Butler, in 2012.
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Posted: July 21, 2017, 11:00 pm

One-legged Albanian double killer sent home after 14 years

A one-legged Albanian double murderer has finally been extradited to his homeland after a taxpayer-funded two-year battle to avoid extradition. Saliman Barci used a false identity to claim.
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Posted: July 21, 2017, 10:53 pm

Charlie Gard's parents in latest round of legal battle

Charlie parent's Chris Gard and Connie Yates, from west London, are in a legal battle with Great Ormond Street Hospital over whether Charlie should travel to the US for treatment.
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Posted: July 21, 2017, 10:52 pm

Fish and chip shops cut portion sizes

According to the Office for National Statistics, the average price of fish and chips rose from £2.42 to £4.74 between 1996 and 2011. In many places it now costs more than £6.
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Posted: July 21, 2017, 10:44 pm

Network Rail's £500,000-a-year boss claimed for 57p crisps

Just days after the taxpayer-funded operator revealed the bumper pay package of chairman Sir Peter Hendy (pictured) it became embroiled in a fresh row over public sector greed.
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Posted: July 21, 2017, 10:33 pm

Muslim mother sues Holland Park School over face veil ban

Single mother-of-three Rachida Serroukh, 37, said she was left upset after being told about the policy at an evening for parents of new pupils at Holland Park School in West London.
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Posted: July 21, 2017, 10:31 pm

Andy Robson took photos of pupils getting changed

Police found a device at 42-year-old Andy Robson's home in Dorking which was being used to host pictures of groups of pupils getting changed, following a search on February 22 this year.
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Posted: July 21, 2017, 10:21 pm

Dad's Army creator leaves £50,000 to long-term mistress 

Probate records for Jimmy Perry, who died aged 93 in October, reveal he left £1.3million to Glenda, his wife of 63 years, and £50,000 to mistress Mary Husband.
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Posted: July 21, 2017, 10:19 pm

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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