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British couple are found dead in Costa del Sol 

The bodies of a 71-year-old man and his 80-year-old wife were found in separate rooms in their flat in the province of Malaga and had been dead for somewhere between 10 and 15 days.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 5:26 pm

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.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 5:26 pm

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.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 5:25 pm

Prince George gets a tour of a HELICOPTER in Hamburg

The third in line to the throne, who turns four tomorrow, couldn't hide his excitement as he took a peek at the interior of a H145 and H135 before waving goodbye to the German city.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 5:22 pm

Marvyn Iheanacho found guilty of murdering Alex Malcolm

Convicted robber Marvyn Iheanacho, 39, flew into a rage and attacked his girlfriend's son Alex Malcolm after he lost his trainer at Mountsfield Park in Hither Green, South East London.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 5:18 pm

Chester Bennington's body removed from his California home

Just hours after the singer's apparent suicide, a vile troll tweeted disgusting claims from Talinda Bennington's official Twitter account.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 5:17 pm

Osborne and Gove pocketed £17k payoffs after being sacked

The two men were handed severance payments when Theresa May ousted them from their jobs as Chancellor and Justice Secretary when she arrived in No10.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 5:11 pm

Haydock Races abandoned as stalls handler is run over

An air ambulance was dispatched to the scene at Newton-Le-Willows in Merseyside with a paramedic reportedly telling horrified onlookers: 'It's not good.'
Posted: July 21, 2017, 5:08 pm

Clashes after Israel restricts Jerusalem Old City prayers

The unrest came after Israeli ministers decided not to remove metal detectors outside the Haram al-Sharif mosque following an attack nearby a week ago that killed two policemen.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 4:40 pm

Students can improve their grades by taking Adderall

Adderall, growing popular as a so-called 'smart drug', helped to boost memory and attention in a small trial, according to researchers at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 4:35 pm

Dunkirk veteran became a woman after 40 years of marriage

Brave Louise Jennings (pictured), of Sheffield, was 20 when she was called up to the Army as Robert Jennings.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 4:32 pm

Entire staff of Bristol's Our Lady of Lourdes School quits

Sixteen teachers have left Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Primary School in Bristol since the start of the year and have been replaced by temporary staff, who leave their posts today.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 4:24 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.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 4:22 pm

Reading magistrate who abused boy near court is jailed

Rodney Fox (pictured), 49, who had special access to the area under Reading Magistrates' Court would drive the boy there when he knew it would be deserted and assault him.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 4:17 pm

Kingston teen found dead in freezer of £1.5m London home

A 19-year-old woman has been killed and her 21-year-old cousin injured in a suspected honour killing in Kingston, south west London. Two men have been arrested on suspicion of murder.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 4:10 pm

Sheffield mother's 'final' text to husband on Jet2 flight

Nickola Tye from Sheffield was on a Jet2 flight back from the party destination when oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling which caused the captain to declare an emergency descent.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 4:08 pm

Girl fined £150 for opening Mile End lemonade stand

Stunned father Andre Spicer said his daughter had set up the stall in Mile End, east London, while thousands of music fans were on their way to the Lovebox Festival at the weekend.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 4:07 pm

Essex mother 'forced to wait in A&E with dead baby in bag'

Tammy Anderson, 33, of Essex, said staff at Queen's Hospital in Romford treated her with 'no compassion or respect' after she waited for three hours in casualty with her dead son in a bag.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 4:07 pm

Welsh student parks car in neighbour's drive for 11 weeks

A student left a hand-written note asking if his neighbours in Wales could look after the car - but before he got the go-ahead he parked it on their driveway and jetted off to China.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 4:02 pm

Google executive devises scientific formula for happiness

Happiness is not about what the world gives you — whether it's a lottery win or the loss of a child — it's about what you think about what the world gives you, says Mo Gawdat (pictured).
Posted: July 21, 2017, 3:58 pm

Headmaster accused of sexually harassing boy in Bangalore

Paul Meekin, 43, of Southport, Merseyside, is accused of sexual harassing a 13-year-old American boy when teaching at an exclusive international school in Bangalore, India.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 3:17 pm

Baby boomers of 1950s didn't really have it so good

A new book, Post-War Childhood: Growing Up In The Not-So-Friendly Baby Boomer Years, examines the facts and figures behind the myth of children's carefree lives in the post-war years
Posted: July 21, 2017, 3:17 pm

No 10 cancels Nicola Sturgeon's right to PM meetings

From now on, the SNP leader will only get to deal with Scottish Secretary David Mundell because ministers believe 'he is at the same level as her'.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 3:14 pm

UK weather: Britain hit by 50mph winds and an inch of rain

A Met Office severe weather warning was issued for wind and rain in South West England and South Wales, while there were two flood alerts for Cornwall and another for the Yorkshire coast today.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 3:04 pm

Kate Middleton conducts the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra

Kate joined husband William for a special performance given by the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra for the children of Hamburg in the Elbphilarmonie on their last day in Germany.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 3:02 pm

OJ Simpson's ex prison guard said the Juice betrayed him

OJ Simpson's former prison guard at Nevada's Lovelock Correctional Center was offended when the Juice bashed his tell-all book on live TV during his parole hearing.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 2:55 pm

Your Fat Friend on what it's like to fly as a 'fat person'

The writer, who is known as Your Fat Friend on Twitter, tweeted an entire thread about what it is really like for her to travel by plane.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 2:40 pm

Corrie Mckeague: 'Nothing found' in airman landfill search

Police end landfill search for missing airman Corrie Mckeague, who they say had "slept in rubbish".
Posted: July 21, 2017, 2:39 pm

Petra Ecclestone and James Stunt court battle continues

Petra Ecclestone is embroiled in a fight with James Stunt at London's Central Family Court over their £5.5billion fortune for what could be the biggest divorce settlement in celebrity history.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Newcastle parents who kept kids in filthy home are jailed

A police officer who entered the property in North Tyneside said the smell inside the 'uninhabitable' and fly-infested building was so strong it 'made his eyes water'.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 2:34 pm

London mum with Alzheimer's is making memories with son

Jayde Greene, 27, from Leytonstone, east London, is expected to develop Alzheimer's symptoms when her now one-year-old son is as young as 15. She worries he may also develop the condition.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 2:31 pm

Brits chaos to get home after Greece and Turkey 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.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 2:31 pm

Barry Bennell sex abuse trial set for January

The ex-football coach is charged with 55 alleged child sexual offences dating back to 1979.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 2:29 pm

Darwen council apologise for dumping tonne of mud on grave

The family of Mick Sutton, 37, who was found dead in Blackpool last month, were left outraged after workers 'dumped a mountain of dirt' on his grave just three weeks after he was buried.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 2:26 pm

Great British summer getaway begins as 9m hit the roads

The Great British summer getaway has started today with nine million Brits set to hit the roads - bringing 'chaos' to the country's motorways including the M25 around London and M5 near Bristol.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 2:25 pm

Welsh former soldier accused of murdering grandmother

Penelope John, 50, pictured, is accused of killing her mother Betty Guy, 84, jointly with her former soldier son Barry Rogers, 32. She was found dead at her home in Pembrokeshire in 2011.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 2:24 pm

Gove admits EU migrants will keep coming to the UK

Environment Secretary Michael Gove insisted immigration rules would be overhauled and the referendum result honoured.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 2:22 pm

Nottingham Harvester raided by masked gunmen

The gang raided the Harvester, in Nottingham, before making off with cash and mobile phones belonging to staff.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 2:17 pm

Cardiff dad makes car hedge for his son

Faiz Belal, a part-time taxi driver and clinical hypnotherapist, decided to carve the creation outside his house on the Taff Embankment, Cardiff, when his son was aged four.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 2:13 pm

Five pence plastic bag levy raises more than £95m

Environment Secretary Michael Gove today claimed the levy had meant nine billion fewer single use bags had been used in England since it was introduced.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 2:12 pm

Hollywood actor Michael Enright on his fight against ISIS

Michael Enright told he has helped identify a high-ranking ISIS terrorist. The Manchester-born actor is fighting Daesh in Raqqa as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 2:11 pm

Kate and William visit Hamburg’s Maritime Museum

On Friday morning the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge bid auf wiedersehen to Berlin and boarded a train to Hamburg, with Kate stunning in a custom Emilia Wickstead dress.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 2:03 pm

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.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 2:02 pm

Man admits murdering brother and dog on New Year's Day

Blair Logan poured petrol on his brother Cameron (pictured), 23, and the bed he was sharing with girlfriend as they slept at their home in East Dunbartonshire in the early hours of January 1.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 2:02 pm

Reality Check: Is Brexit inevitable?

How the law, politics and practicalities could affect the process of the UK leaving the EU.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 2:02 pm

Cotswold Wildlife Park first litter wolf cubs in 47 years

The curators at Cotswold Wildlife Park in Oxfordshire recently welcomed the surprise arrival of five mischievous Eurasian wolf cubs.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 1:53 pm

Kate Middleton and Prince William are Game of Thrones fans

William and Kate chatted to German actor Tom Wlaschiha, who plays Jaqen H'ghar in the cult show, at an event in Berlin on Thursday night.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 1:44 pm

The 'miracle of Dunkirk' in colour

Pictures show a flotilla of British ships making their way across the Channel as part of the rescue attempt, while another sees a group of soldiers wading through the sea as they move towards a boat.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 1:38 pm

Baroness Hale appointed as UK's first female top judge

Yorkshire-born Baroness Hale is to become the UK Supreme Court's first female president, aged 72.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 1:38 pm

Judge says torture case evidence can be heard in secret

The High Court says MI6 and the government need a "fair opportunity" to fight claims made a Libyan dissident.
Posted: July 21, 2017, 1:36 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 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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