Kent-based fleet supplier VisionTrack is providing its advanced video telematics technology for a fleet of commercial vehicles being used as part of the UK’s first real-world operational truck platooning trials.
VisionTrack has joined a consortium of partners, led by the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), that is conducting the tests on behalf of Highways England (HE) and the Department for Transport (DfT). The HelmUK Advanced Platooning Trial is testing an automated truck convoy in a live commercial environment on UK roads. The trials will evaluate how platooning will synchronise control using connected vehicle technology, so that a number of trucks can travel in close formation with acceleration and braking controlled by the lead vehicle. The drivers remain in control of lateral vehicle movement at all times, keeping their hands on the wheel. These trials aim to quantify the potential fuel efficiency benefits associated with the ‘slipstreaming effect’ that occurs when the distance between commercial vehicles is fixed.
For the test fleet, a five-camera solution, using a connected digital video recorder (DVR), has been installed to provide complete visibility of the tractor units and trailers as they go through the various phases of testing. Front, rear and driver facing cameras, along with side cameras, will capture video and supporting data regarding what is going on in and around the vehicles, especially interactions with other road users. In combination with the use of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) technology, the solution will also assess the impact on the workload of the driver while platooning when compared to normal operating conditions.
“We are delighted that our video telematics technology is playing an important role in these trials,” said Simon Marsh, VisionTrack’s managing director. “We are supporting the consortium to implement a connected vehicle camera solution that will help establish whether platooning can be allowed to take place on UK roads safely.”
Camilla Fowler, head of risk management at TRL said, “We have brought together a consortium of partners that delivers a powerful combination of vehicle system innovation, operational experience, robust trial design, coupled with a proven understanding of road safety issues. VisionTrack is a leading video telematics specialist that is providing the trial with a vehicle camera and monitoring solution. This will enable us to record and measure activity that may be classified as a risk, which will help us understand and quantify the road safety issues of platooning.”