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UK Weather: Eye of 100mph Storm Ophelia batters Britain

Scotland is braced for 70mph gusts and flooding with warnings in place for its west coast, while in England several trees were blocking the train line between Halifax and Bradford Inter.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 10:18 am

The most humbling Rich House, Poor House of all

The Leamon and the Fiddes families are participants in Channel 5’s Rich House, Poor House, where Britain's richest families swap places with its poorest.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 10:13 am

Theresa May and Juncker agree to 'accelerate' Brexit talks

The talks in Brussels seemed to produce little more than warm words about 'accelerating' negotiations - amid anger that the EU's sole aim is to squeeze as much money from the UK as possible.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 10:12 am

Mercedes-Benz recall 400,000 cars over air bag fault

A range of models are affected, including the A-Class, B-Class, C-Class, E-Class, CLA, GLA and GLC built between November 2011 and July 2017.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 8:53 am

Roy Dotrice, veteran British actor dies aged 94

He also joined the second season of Game of Thrones as Hallyne the Pyromancer, who was the head of the Alchemists' Guild in King's Landing.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 8:47 am

Lord Lloyd-Webber quits the House of Lords after 20 years

Andrew Lloyd-Webber is set to quit the House of Lords after 20 years, according to reports. The Tory peer has written to the Clerk of the Parliament to inform him of his decision.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 8:44 am

Female rugby player found dead amid bullying claims

A 16-year-old rugby player described as 'sweet, bright and talented' took her life after allegedly being bullied. Brooke Firth (pictured), of West Yorkshire, was found dead last week.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 8:24 am

Former England captain Terry Butcher's war hero son dies

Christopher Butcher was 35 and the oldest son of the former England captain, who has previously revealed he struggled to cope with the stresses of serving in Afghanistan.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 8:22 am

Hurricane Ophelia: UK faces more storm disruption

The storm hits Scotland, as schools stay shut and hundreds of thousands are without power in Ireland.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 8:20 am

Parsons Green stabbing: One dead, two hurt in knife attack

One person has died and two others have been injured following a stabbing near Parson's Green Tube station just before 8pm tonight. A police cordon remains in place.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 8:18 am

Bombardier to partner Airbus on C-Series jets

The European aerospace firm is to take a majority stake in Bombardier's C-Series jet project.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 8:15 am

Crimewatch axed by BBC after 33 years

But daytime sister programme Crimewatch Roadshow will continue, the corporation says.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 8:09 am

Online life of an ISIS jihadi bride in Raqqa is revealed

The Flemish-speaking Belgian woman of Moroccan descent had been living in the Syrian city of Raqqa which was once claimed by the Islamic State terrorists as a stronghold.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 7:30 am

Police in UK is crossing off offences including theft

Victims in the UK can now expect little or no investigation, or a visit from a police officer, unless they can supply evidence or name a suspect relating to the crime.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 7:22 am

Cambridge University graduate admits over 100 offences

Dr Matthew Falder, 28, has pleaded guilty to more than 100 offences, including blackmailing victims into sending him severe abuse images of themselves and sharing them on the dark web.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 7:13 am

Fury as police officers ride dodgems on duty at Hull Fair

A crowd of on-duty police officers (pictured) were spotted on the dodgems at Hull Fair yesterday, sparking outrage from revellers who say they should have been fighting crime.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 6:56 am

Storm Ophelia victims from Ireland identified

Families paid tribute to road traffic victims Clare O'Neill (pictured) and Fintan Goss, 33, as well as 31-year-old Michael Pyke, who died in a horrific chainsaw accident in Co Tipperary.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 6:43 am

Pole dancing could feature in the Olympics

The Global Association of International Sports Federation (GAISF) gave it ‘observer status’ – meaning it will now provisionally be classified as a sport.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 6:35 am

Parsons Green Tube station stabbing: One dead, two hurt

The incident is not being treated as terror-related, London Ambulance Service said.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 6:24 am

New peers ‘to be given 15-year term in House of Lords'

A 15-year limit will be imposed on new peerages to curb House of Lords numbers, it emerged last night. There is no limit on how long life peers can serve and no retirement age.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 6:22 am

Newspaper headlines: 'Rage of Ophelia' and 15-year limit on peerages

A storm turns the UK skies orange and a plan to limit new peerages to 15 years feature on Tuesday's front pages.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 4:35 am

Bolsover Castle voted spookiest English Heritage site

With its mysterious footsteps, slamming doors and little boy who appears to hold visitors hands, Bolsover Castle (pictured inset) in Derbyshire is the spookiest English Heritage site in the land.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 2:55 am

Tributes pour in for Sean Hughes after his death aged 51

Comedian Sean Hughes (pictured) was 24 when he became the youngest person to win the top prize in British comedy, the Perrier Award, at the 1990 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 1:36 am

Quentin Letts: Rudd failed to deliver usual put-downs

QUENTIN LETTS says home secretary Amber Rudd was less interested in giving Labour members what-for than she has been in verbally assaulting Boris Johnson in recent weeks.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 1:25 am

Stars back Daily Mail's Quid for Kids appeal

Celebrities have rolled out in support of the Daily Mail’s Quids for Kids Christmas appeal to give seriously ill children a magical experience this Christmas.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 1:16 am

Irish thrillseeker leaps into sea during Hurricane Ophelia

The disturbing clip was filmed in Salthill, in the city of Galway, this morning as winds in excess of 119mph battered Ireland. The man hurls himself off a diving board into the choppy waters.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 12:58 am

Justice denied?

There are calls for youngsters to be given the right to speak in private to judges
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 12:49 am

Jamie Oliver sugar tax hailed success after sales fall 11%

Sales of fizzy drinks fell by 11 per cent at Jamie Oliver's UK restaurants after he imposed his own 10p 'sugar tax' levy, a study has shown. Coca Colas increased to £2.65 at his chain.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 12:46 am

BBC’s Crimewatch is axed after 33 years

The controversial decision is set to spark fury among police forces, who were often helped to solve crime by the public response that it generated.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 12:42 am

Victim of HIV hairdresser was 'starstruck' by him

An alleged victim hairdresser Daryll Rowe, 26, (pictured) accused of deliberately infecting his lovers with HIV said he was 'starstruck' by him at Lewes Crown Court today.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 12:42 am

Grenfell art auction raises £1.9m

Artists including Antony Gormley and Tracey Emin donated works for surviving families.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 12:41 am

Channel 4 axes North Korea drama after being hacked

Channel 4 has scrapped a planned drama based in North Korea after Kim Jong-un’s regime hacked into its systems and ‘scared’ investors into withdrawing their funding.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 12:40 am

Police investigation shows forces have priorities wrong 

Scotland Yard has already announced it has launched an investigation into allegations that Harvey Weinstein sexually abused four women in Britain, including actress Lysette Anthony.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 12:25 am

Brexit negotiations should accelerate, say May and Juncker

Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker say their working dinner was "constructive and friendly".
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 12:24 am

Make-A-Wish Foundation UK makes girl's mermaid wish happen

At seven years old, Chloe Wilde is determined to become a mermaid, and absolutely nothing will get in her way. Certainly not the fact that she was born with half a functioning heart.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 12:18 am

Taste test reveals affordable but cracking Christmas food

Mince pies at six for £2 from Tesco have beaten the best of the high street, including expensive upmarket brands, in a Christmas taste test from Good Housekeeping Institute.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 12:17 am

Constituency boundary switch would've delivered a May win

Plans by the Boundary Commission to redraw borders and equalise the number of voters in each seat would – if they had been in force in June – have given the Tories the extra MPs they needed.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 12:14 am

Criminals caught growing cannabis let off with a caution

In Durham cannabis users have effectively been given a free pass to grow the drug for their own consumption after officers said they would pursue only 'blatant' offenders.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 12:13 am

'I felt so low, I couldn't see a way out'

A record number of children seek help from Childline over suicidal thoughts and feelings.
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Posted: October 17, 2017, 12:00 am

Over 300 patients sue over defective hip replacements

More than 300 UK hip replacement patients have begun a court battle over 'defective' implants that allegedly left them in pain and up to 100 times more likely to need the devices replaced.
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Posted: October 16, 2017, 11:56 pm

Pret A Manger starts offering free water at Veggie stores

Free filtered drinking water is to be offered by Pret A Manger's veggie outlets in London and Manchester in a move to cut down on plastic bottles.
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Posted: October 16, 2017, 11:54 pm

Restaurant chain 'cut sugary drink sales' with price rise

A fall in sales of high-sugar drinks in Jamie's Italian restaurant chain was linked to the levy and menu changes.
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Posted: October 16, 2017, 11:54 pm

Love it or loathe it

The Swedish furniture giant has been in the UK for 30 years, and earned both fans and critics.
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Posted: October 16, 2017, 11:53 pm

Councils buying homeless one-way train tickets

One rough sleeper said his local council offered him a ticket to a city he had never been to before.
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Posted: October 16, 2017, 11:42 pm

Goole bride cancels wedding as fiance cheats with friend

Sarah Cocker (pictured), 37, of Yorkshire, had just returned from her hen party when her fiance Chris Heraty, 34, text her to say he had kissed her best friend several times.
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Posted: October 16, 2017, 11:35 pm

Reality Check

Brexiters says there is no legal obligation for the UK to pay anything to leave the EU.
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Posted: October 16, 2017, 11:24 pm

Buying a house made 'impossible' by rental costs

Rental costs in Cambridge make it hard for people to buy their own homes, according to one couple.
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Posted: October 16, 2017, 11:08 pm

Dreams of home

Frustrations as house values in many parts of the country fail to recover from the financial crisis of 2007.
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Posted: October 16, 2017, 11:08 pm

Essex figure skater jumped to death from St Paul's

'Beautiful and intelligent' Lidia Dragescu, 23, from Romford, Essex, fell 100ft in front of shocked tourists and was clutching two suicide notes — one to her mother, and another to those who saw her fall.
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Posted: October 16, 2017, 11:03 pm

'No justice'

A family's search for the truth over a young footballer's cold-blooded murder.
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Posted: October 16, 2017, 11:02 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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