Infrastructure construction, engineering, and services contractor, Costain has revealed that it is working with a consortium of partners headed by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), on the first real-world operational trial of platooning vehicles on UK roads.
The platooning trials will involve two or more trucks accelerating, braking and steering in sync through wireless vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications technology, which effectively allows them to communicate with each other and operate as a single unit.
The first UK trial, funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) and Highways England (HE), will see up to three trucks travelling in convoy, and all will be controlled by the lead vehicle. All lorries in the platoon will have a driver ready to take control at any time.
The pilot will explore whether this autonomous driver technology can improve the fuel efficiency of trucks to reduce emissions output, as well as increase traffic flow and road capacity. It is also hoped that the trial will boost acceptance and understanding by road users ahead of mapping out potential future infrastructure considerations. It will also look at the commercial case for the adoption of the technology.
Costain’s role in the project will be threefold:
The company will advise on technology solutions for the trial, while serving on the advisory board for the project;
Costain will be leading on the risk management for the project, charting out the key risks across it;
The organization will be deploying its traffic management and safety expertise to develop the safety case for platooning.
Costain will bring its strong technology expertise and in-depth knowledge of the UK’s roads to bear on the project. The company will be involved from start to finish on the £8.1m (US$10.9m) trial. The on-road trials, using DAF trucks, will form part of leading logistics provider DHL’s logistical operations and are expected to take place in 2018, following the completion of a program of driving simulations, driver training and test track trials over the coming months.
“We are an industry leader in road technology and we are proud to be part of the consortium delivering the UK’s first operational road trial of platooning vehicles. We work hard to improve people’s lives, and the automation of trucks could see emissions reduced and safety improved on our roads,” noted Simon Ellison, Costain’s sector director for highways.
“We have a strong track record of deploying technology-based engineering solutions to the UK’s road network, and we will support this innovative pilot with our unique skillset and expertise.”