congestion and emissions
Read time: 6 minutes
Platooning reduces congestion and emissions
As a result of the ever increasing mobility, traffic circulation and road safety are the Dutch Ministry of Transport’s major challenges. Suffice to say that other countries face similar problems. Conforming to the Dutch minister, ‘smart mobility’ is the answer. Zelfrijdendvervoer.nl (2017) reported that the minister wishes to prepare legislation and the infrastructure for semi-autonomous cars before the end of this year.
One of the measures are so-called TULIP corridors. These corridors connect Amsterdam, Antwerp and Rotterdam with the Ruhr Area in Germany. In 2020 a hundred ‘lorry platoons’ per day are to use the corridors. In each platoon up to five wirelessly connected lorries drive in formation. In the Rotterdam – the Hague region a large-scale trial with ‘self-driving’ lorries on major roads was held in 2017.
Platooning has been tested in countries around the world, including German, the US and Japan. As reported by bbc.com UK trials on major roads are expected to be held by the end of 2018.
Truck platooning reduces traffic congestion
In platoons, self-driving lorries drive closer together than driver-controlled lorries. The human driver of the lead vehicle controls speed and direction. The other lorries follow at just 0.3 seconds without risking the safety of the drivers and other traffic, according to Dutch research institute (2017).
Thanks to shorter distances between lorries space is created. Traffic waves, which are an important cause of congestion, are also reduced as the lorries all brake simultaneously.
Reduced fuel consumption and emissions
Shorter distances also mean reduced air resistance, which in turn reduces fuel consumption and emissions (TNO, 2017). According to zelfrijdendvervoer.nl (2017) platooning trials have seen improvements in fuel economy of up to 10%.
Platooning heavily relies on technology, such as:
- vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication
- the vehicle’s response to sensors (radar, cameras)
- the connection of vehicle and platoon controls
According to TNO (2017) the platooning system must take all the decisions, in view of the extreme short distance (humans respond too late).
Smart & Safe Convoy 2018
Whereas earlier trials focussed on lorries, this year’s Smart & Safe Convoy, sponsored by Van Ameyde, is made up of semi-autonomous passenger cars. The aim is to stimulate employers’ mobility policymakers to opt for cars fitted with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS).
Most traffic accidents are caused by human error. ADAS minimises human errors. Known ADAS functionality includes adaptive cruise control, lane assist, brake assist and blind-spot detection.
Zelfrijdendvervoer.nl. (2017). Minister: wegen en wetten dit jaar voorbereiden op ‘slimme’ voertuigen [Dutch only]
Zelfrijdendvervoer.nl. (2017). Truck platooning in Rotterdam wordt een van vijf Europese testprojecten [Dutch only]
TNO. (2017). Truck platooning techniek klaar voor de openbare weg [Dutch only]
bbc.com (2017). ‘Self-driving’ lorries to be tested on UK roads.