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Driverless HGV convoys being trialled

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deltic

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While it will be many years before they become a reality the latest trial of driverless HGV trucks sounds ominous for railfreight.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-35737104

"Driverless lorries are to be trialled in the UK, Chancellor George Osborne is expected to confirm in his Budget speech this month.

The Department for Transport said the UK would "lead the way" in testing driverless "HGV platoons".

The technology enables vehicles to move in a group, using less fuel, it said.

The Times reported trials would take place on the M6 in Cumbria later in 2016, with vehicles in convoy headed by a driver in the leading lorry.

The tests would take place on a quiet stretch of the motorway, it said.

The paper said the plans could result in platoons of up to 10 computer-controlled lorries being driven metres apart from each other.

It said the chancellor was preparing to fund the trials as part of plans to speed up lorry deliveries and cut congestion.
'Very difficult'

Edmund King, the president of the AA, said while such a scheme might work in other countries, he was doubtful it was right for the UK.

"The problem with the UK motorway network is that we have more entrances and exits of our motorways than any other motorways in Europe or indeed the world, and therefore it's very difficult to have a 44 tonne 10-lorry platoon, because other vehicles need to get past the platoon to enter or exit the road."

He said the "only feasible place" to trial the plans would be the M6, north of Preston towards Scotland, because it "tends to have less traffic and there are slightly fewer entrances and exits".

A driverless lorry developed by Daimler has already been tested on a public road in Germany in October.

The vehicles have a "highway pilot" - which can be activated at the press of a button - that helps them avoid other road users via a radar and camera sensing system.

But the company has a requirement that a human driver be present and focused on the road at all times.....
 
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yorksrob

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Such convoys will still be a physical nuisance for other road users and those living alongside.

Heavy rail freight is one area that I don't believe to be threatened by the cursed driverless vehicles.
 

a_c_skinner

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So the place to try it is the dreadfully easy M6 where I live? Cannot be that good can it?

A6 for me now.

Edit: will they spot lane 1 closed near Dillicar Common that has been going on for no apparent reason for 6 months?

Andrew
 
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gage75

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Might a better idea be the use of B-Trains (double artic trailers on one tractor unit) as used in other countries for transport of lightweight bulk commodities such as bog paper, crisps and such like??

I believe it has already been developed for UK roads (long hgv) but I think the Govt put a dampner on because to complicated to implement ( tho I may be wrong in this)
 
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GB

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At the very least it will be a nightmare trying to join a motorway or dual carriage way with those things going passed!
 

theironroad

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Just how this will 'speed up' deliveries I'm not sure. There are plenty of convoys of lorries in the nearside lane on some motorways, only difference is there is a driver in each.

It seems big business and government is hell bent on removing human beings from as many jobs as possible.
 

edwin_m

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They seem to be keeping a driver in each truck, for the time being at least.

I can't really see how you get a sufficient number of compatible trucks to the same place at the same time to form a "platoon", without a lot of inefficient hanging around. And if it becomes driverless what do the drivers who have brought the second and subsequent ones do next? It seems to have some of the logistical complication of taking intermodal boxes to and from a railhead, without much of the associated benefit of saving fuel and driver hours.
 

johnmoly

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Mad. Typical of Government to back something that cannot work in reality. Sounds fine on a motorway but there comes a time when a lorry will have to exit and go to its destination, how will it do that, how will it back into the correct bay at say a warehouse. Fine for wide roads in Germany but not some narrow lanes like in UK. As an ex long distance lorry driver I can see all sorts of problems. Mad
 

jon0844

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All of these great ideas are fine until the data connection between each vehicle is affected for whatever reason, a sensor fails and everything grinds to a halt for safety reasons and how they all interact with other road users without all this clever tech.

Google admitted recently it needs to tweak it's settings because when one of its cars hit a bus, there was an assumption that other vehicles would give way to it. Seems rather odd to make such an unsafe assumption. That's just like an error a normal driver would make.
 
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GlosRail

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What happens when the lorry reaches the junction it needs to leave at?

Will a driver be standing by waiting on the side of the road to take the lorry to do it's delivery? How will that driver get in position? by car?
 

SpacePhoenix

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Send it by train instead. There must be a lot of freight that would be better off being sent by rail
 

furnessvale

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Might a better idea be the use of B-Trains (double artic trailers on one tractor unit) as used in other countries for transport of lightweight bulk commodities such as bog paper, crisps and such like??

I believe it has already been developed for UK roads (long hgv) but I think the Govt put a dampner on because to complicated to implement ( tho I may be wrong in this)

B Trains have been pushed very hard by Robinson Transport but the cut in when cornering is horrendous and will never be acceptable.

The EU (yes that one!) is developing a common standard around 62 tonnes and 25.25m long which has positive steering to keep the back end in line.

The UK is resisting it as being too big for our roads. The Scandinavians already use much larger ones and are pushing for even bigger HGVs. Either way, kiss goodbye to much rail bulk freight traffic.
 

ExRes

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And there was me thinking that the way many HGV vehicles behave they were driverless already

Will these convoys stay in one lane though or will they all pull out into the middle lane without signalling to overtake another convoy?

I've always thought that most HGV drivers were over 70 and shouldn't be allowed a licence ;)
 

Bob Ames

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Will these convoys stay in one lane though or will they all pull out into the middle lane without signalling to overtake another convoy?

I think it would be better to join the other convoy rather than overtake it. Better yet, change the law to allow them to run in the fast lane at 80 mph, thus keeping them out of the path of other traffic (but a limit of 80 mph might annoy BMW drivers :lol: ).
 

Busaholic

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I always thought that the practice of convoys of HGVs was actively discouraged by the authorities on the grounds of safety of other motorway users. Seems that principles can be changed willy-nilly.
 

Bletchleyite

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If they have to have a driver on board, as I believe they do, they're going to get very bored (and thus unattentive).

Better perhaps for them to be driven manually but with additional safety systems e.g. collision avoidance and lane departure warnings?
 

Shimbleshanks

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Could the technology could have applications in the rail area? For instance, if it was possible to have powered rail wagons/carriages that were coupled by one of these 'virtual couplings' but were not physically connected, could that reduce the need for heavy duty underframes?
 

furnessvale

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If they have to have a driver on board, as I believe they do, they're going to get very bored (and thus unattentive).

Better perhaps for them to be driven manually but with additional safety systems e.g. collision avoidance and lane departure warnings?

I'm sure the "driver on board" is only for the trials.

Once systems are proved, or not as the case may be, they will want to move to driverless slaves, after all, it's all about saving money not paying people to sit reading books or watching the TV.

How long before the yobs in hot hatches start playing the game of "breaking up a convoy" by bobbing in and out of the gaps?
 

Domh245

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Could the technology could have applications in the rail area? For instance, if it was possible to have powered rail wagons/carriages that were coupled by one of these 'virtual couplings' but were not physically connected, could that reduce the need for heavy duty underframes?

Perhaps it would reduce the need for heavy duty underframes where the coupling is, but they aren't going to move themselves! You'd need to have a means of propulsion on each car, something not usually seen outside of LU, which is both expensive, and heavy - which would need substantial underframes again.
 

Skutter

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How long before the yobs in hot hatches start playing the game of "breaking up a convoy" by bobbing in and out of the gaps?

I thought that too - but the lorries are going to be covered in Cctv cameras ready to report to the police. On the other hand, get in front at 31mph, how do they overtake you? I've not often seen the middle lane of a motorway empty enough for 10 trucks to all pull out at once.
 

AM9

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I thought that too - but the lorries are going to be covered in Cctv cameras ready to report to the police. On the other hand, get in front at 31mph, how do they overtake you...

... especially at the foot of a long uphill stretch. Who's to say that a (car) driver can't go slower in the nearside lane?
 

Welly

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This shows that trains are a very well-proven concept for moving stuff...
 

Shimbleshanks

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Perhaps it would reduce the need for heavy duty underframes where the coupling is, but they aren't going to move themselves! You'd need to have a means of propulsion on each car, something not usually seen outside of LU, which is both expensive, and heavy - which would need substantial underframes again.

But you could have a four-car set physically coupled with one power car, say. Then each four-car set would be 'virtually' coupled to each other. You could still have much less heavy underframes than for, say, a 12-car train.
 

furnessvale

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This shows that trains are a very well-proven concept for moving stuff...

Very true, but it would appear that the government is determined to produce a hybrid that combines the worst bits of road and rail!
 

Bletchleyite

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To me, it would make more sense for automated vans/lorries to carry out the local delivery using swap-bodies of some kind having trunked the freight by rail.
 

furnessvale

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To me, it would make more sense for automated vans/lorries to carry out the local delivery using swap-bodies of some kind having trunked the freight by rail.

We'll have less of such sensible talk on here, if you don't mind!
 

Busaholic

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Presumably all lane closures will be suspended for the duration of the trial?!
 

GB

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But you could have a four-car set physically coupled with one power car, say. Then each four-car set would be 'virtually' coupled to each other. You could still have much less heavy underframes than for, say, a 12-car train.

I don't see the benefit. Couplings and its mountings can't weigh that much when all things considered surely?

...and in the event of an accident, wouldn't you wan't a sturdier, albeit heavier, under frame anyway?
 
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