The Scania contingent in the 2016 European Truck Platooning Challenge has reached Belgium for a demonstration at the Circuit Zolder race track, 56 kilometres from Brussels. Embarking from Scania’s Head Office in Södertälje on Tuesday, the three-truck wirelessly connected Scania platoon has travelled through Sweden, Denmark and Germany before reaching Belgium.
“Interest was especially high in Denmark where there were loads of people on overpasses that came to watch us as we drove through the country,” says driver Camilla Holmqvist.
As a driver for the Scania Transport Laboratory since 2010, she has broad experience of driving in platoons. Scania’s rolling laboratory regularly travels in platoons on the route between its production units in Sweden and the Netherlands. However, these fuel-saving platoons are carried out using the trucks’ normal camera and radar equipment to ensure safe distances between vehicles.
“Both safe and smooth”
For the European Truck Platooning Challenge, trucks have been given special permission to deploy wireless communication, thereby enabling them to halve distances down to 0.5 seconds between vehicles. The shorter the distance, the less drag is generated and the greater the fuel savings. “When the first truck in the platoon brakes, the following trucks also brake. We’ve driven with a distance of only ten metres. During the first few kilometres, I was apprehensive but the systems have worked exactly as planned and I’ve been able to fully relax.”
Scania has invited reporters to experience the thrill of platooning first-hand and ride along in the platoon. Several reporters have taken advantage of this opportunity and the reporter from the Swedish trade magazine Åkeri & Entrepenad immediately posted a video on Facebook adding this comment: “We travelled really, really close but I experienced the system as both safe and smooth.”
Legislative amendments needed
The European Truck Platooning Challenge ends on 6 April in Rotterdam with high-level participation from the Dutch Government, the European Commission and the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association. The parties will discuss coming legislative amendments needed to implement platooning on European motorways. Camilla Holmqvist is convinced that platooning will increasingly gain ground: “Definitely, this is the future for our industry and it feels exciting to participate in the first stages of these developments.”