Dutch businesses say they are “keen to go forward” with truck platooning, as a trial of the technology was completed today with six columns of lorries arriving in Rotterdam.
The trial organisers say Albert Heijn, Jumbo and Unilever have all said they want to conduct increased testing of freight shipments with trucks driving in “trains” along the highway.
Dutch Infrastructure and the Environment minister Schultz van Haegen welcomed six columns of trucks which had driven from a number of European cities to Rotterdam over the past several days.
The European Truck Platooning Challenge, organised by Rijkswaterstaat, featured DAF Trucks, Daimler Trucks, Iveco, MAN Truck & Bus, Scania and Volvo Group driving in platoons across national borders, which marked a global first.
Van Haegen said “The results of this first ever major try-out in Europe are promising. 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. As the test shows, the technology has come a long way already. What it also makes clear is that we Europeans need to better harmonise rules of the road and rules for drivers. This will open the door for upscaled, cross-border truck platooning. The hands-on experience gained here will be very useful in the informal European transport council on 14 April in Amsterdam. It will certainly help my colleagues and I discuss the adjustments needed to make self-driving transport a reality.”
According to Erik Jonnaert, secretary-general of ACEA, the European umbrella organisation representing the six truck manufacturers involved, the benefits of platooning go beyond road transport which is more efficient, safer and kinder to the environment, “Platooning also reinforces the leadership position of our automotive industry in terms of new technology; this also boosts Europe’s competitive position in the global marketplace. Meanwhile, there are still plenty of barriers in place, that hinder the launch of this technology. With this in mind it is good that the Netherlands has taken the lead in positioning these topics high on the European agenda. Cooperation within the EU is crucial in preventing the development of a patchwork of local rules and procedures, strangling progress.”
The Challenge opened on 29 March with the departure of the first “trains” of trucks from a number of European cities. Columns of trucks drove from Sweden, Germany and Belgium to Rotterdam.
At the platooning stand at Intertraffic, Dutch transport technician Guido Elstgeest gave his reaction to the trial: