Earlier this week, a convoy of European trucks blazed a trail for autonomous cargo carriers.
Six truck manufacturers — DAR, Daimler, Iveco, MAN, Scania and Volvo — each had two autonomous trucks leave from different cities on March 31 to participate in the European Truck Platooning Challenge.
Scania, for example, had its trucks leave from a town just south of Stockholm in Sweden, whereas MAN launched its trucks from Munich, Germany. Ultimately, all 12 trucks were to travel to the Port of Rotterdam by April 6.
Platooning — in which the trucks are connected via Wi-Fi follow each other closely — has the potential to decrease fuel consumption and associated carbon dioxide emissions. Because the trucks’ driving systems are connected, they travel at the exact same speed, brake simultaneously and can thus follow each other closely, taking up less space on the road.
The successful journey — up to 1,200 miles, in the case of Scania — marks a first for autonomous truck platoons crossing national borders.
A few speed bumps remain, however, on the road to widely used truck platoons. Each truck manufacturer has its own Wi-Fi system, which prevents different brands from connecting, and each country requires a separate application. For this experiment, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden had to approve the route.
Do you think autonomous truck platoons could improve U.S. distribution and traffic? What potential roadblocks do you see? Comment below or tweet @KatieeMohr.