A 'platoon' of self-driving trucks has crossed Europe

Anmar Frangoul | Special to
Semi-automated trucks are driven on the E19 highway in Vilvoorde on April 5, 2016 as part of the 'EU Truck Platooning Challenge 2016'.
Eric Lalmand | AFP | Getty Images

A "platoon" of trucks driven by smart technology has arrived in the Dutch city of Rotterdam after crossing Europe.

The concept of truck platooning involves a set of vehicles, connected by WiFi, driving in a "column."

The truck at the head of the column sets both the speed and route of those behind it, with synchronized breaking and shorter gaps between the trucks two key features.

Driving in this way helps to reduce CO2 emissions and provides up to ten percent of savings on fuel, according to the organizers of the trial.

"The results of this first ever major try-out in Europe are promising," Melanie Schultz van Haegen, the Netherlands' minister of infrastructure and the environment, said in a news release.

"Truck platooning ensures that transport is cleaner and more efficient. Self-driving vehicles also improve traffic safety because most traffic accidents are due to human error," she added.

Vehicles from manufacturers Daimler Trucks, DAF Trucks, Iveco, Volvo, MAN Truck & Bus and Scania were involved in the "European Truck Platooning Challenge."

The trucks departed on March 29th from various locations in Sweden, Belgium and Germany, arriving in the Netherlands yesterday.

As well as being beneficial to the environment, platooning had also helped to reinforce "the leadership position of our automotive industry in terms of new technology," according to Erik Jonnaert, secretary general of ACEA, the organization representing the truck manufacturers involved.

Challenges still remained, however, with Schultz van Haegen stating that Europe needed to "better harmonize rules of the road and rules for drivers."

The challenge was organised by Rijkswaterstaat, the body overseeing the design, construction and maintenance of infrastructure in the Netherlands.