The government of the United Kingdom announced on August 25th that it will grant €8.1 million (approximately $9.7 million) in funding for a series of truck platooning trials on public roads next year.
The Transport Research Laboratory will carry out the trials, with funding provided by the Department for Transport and Highways England. The decision follows a government-funded feasibility study that recommended a trial to examine the benefits and viability of platooning.
According to Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England's chief executive, the platooning trials will focus on three-truck convoys with the goal of demonstrating how greater automation of vehicles – in this instance, heavy commercial vehicles – can deliver improvements in safety, better journeys for road users, and reductions in vehicle emissions.
The tests will be carried out in three phases, with the first focusing on the potential for platooning on Great Britain's major roads. Initial test track-based research will help decide details such as distance between vehicles and on which roads the tests could take place. Each phase of testing will only begin after there is “robust” evidence it can be carried out safety, O’Sullivan added.
The British government anticipates that the initial three test phases will be complete by the end of next year.
Rob Wallis, chief executive of The Transport Research Laboratory, said in a statement, “The UK has an unprecedented opportunity to lead the world in [testing] connected vehicle platoons in a real-world environment. TRL and its consortium of leading international partners, have the practical and technical knowledge gained from previous projects to understand what is required to put a connected vehicle platoon on to UK roads safely.”