Full speed ahead for self-driving trucks

Full speed ahead for self-driving trucks

Scania is now introducing self-driving trucks and buses for trials on public roads. This follows the successful development of self-driving trucks for closed areas, such as mines, ports and terminals. “Driving in a straight line in a smooth manner at speeds approaching 90 kilometres an hour is more difficult than one would expect.”

Scania is thereby taking autonomous transport solutions to a new higher level. “The development of transport automation is occurring much quicker than anyone could have imagined just a couple of years ago,” says Tom Nyström, Expert Engineer at Scania for Autonomous Transport Solutions.

Platoons to reduce carbon dioxide emissions

Driving in platoons to reduce air drag has long been recognised as an effective means of lowering fuel consumption, and thereby CO2 emissions. The European auto industry has outlined needed regulatory changes for the widespread introduction of semi-automated convoys by 2023. Meanwhile, others are taking initiatives to leapfrog development by introducing fully autonomous platoons well ahead of that date. Scania is cooperating with the Singapore Ministry of Transport and the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA Corporation) to design the world’s first full-scale autonomous truck platooning operations. The platoon will traffic public roads while transporting containers between port terminals in Singapore.

In preparation for the Singapore operation, Scania recently deployed a fully autonomous platoon with three trucks travelling at the typical European speed of 80 km/h with a one-half second gap, equal to approximately ten metres. “We’re fine-tuning systems and building experience for coming complex environments such as public roads and especially cities.”

Autonomous city buses in the making

The time may not yet be ripe for autonomous buses in cities but that does not deter Scania from pushing the boundaries of coming technology. An autonomous city bus now plies a route at Scania’s R&D facilities in Södertälje. The downloaded timetable triggers the bus to depart autonomously, making planned intermediate stops for embarking and disembarking passengers.

Most challenging of all will be urban distribution, according to Tom Nyström. “One of the real benefits will the opportunities for swift and rational night time deliveries when autonomous trucks can travel unimpeded by traffic congestion.”