Europe expects semi-automated convoys by 2023

Europe’s truck manufacturers revealed a detailed timeline of steps leading up to the introduction of convoys of semi-automated trucks on Europe’s motorways before 2025. The first real-life tests with truck platooning are already underway.

Besides setting out the timing, the ‘EU Roadmap for Truck Platooning’ also provides guidance to policy makers and authorities on the regulatory changes and political support necessary for cross-border truck platooning.

Speaking at the European Parliament, Erik Jonnaert, Secretary General of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) presented the ‘EU Roadmap for Truck Platooning’ to policy makers. The roadmap provides an overview of the steps that are necessary to implement multi-brand platooning by 2023. Jonnaert: “The technology for platooning with trucks of the same brand is already available today. But clearly customers will need to be able to platoon with trucks of different brands, so our next objective is to introduce multi-brand platooning.”

“By 2023, it should be possible to drive across Europe on motorways with multi-brand platoons, without needing any specific exemptions for crossing national borders – a prerequisite for international transport.” Subsequently, allowing the driver of a trailing truck to rest might come under consideration. However, full autonomous trucks will only come later, Jonnaert stressed.

While manufacturers are already exploring the business case for truck platooning with the logistics sector, certain conditions that need to be met before 2023 are beyond the control of the truck industry. Erik Jonnaert: “That’s why we will also need to strengthen cooperation between all players involved, including operators of road infrastructure, transport companies, regulators and insurance companies, but policy makers in particular.”

Europe will need to create a supportive regulatory framework before truck platooning can become a common sight. “And that’s exactly where the policy makers come in. They will need to develop new rules, make changes to existing legislation, and harmonise international and EU rules,” said ACEA’s Erik Jonnaert.

At the same time, it will be imperative to get political support for promoting the wide-spread introduction of platooning. Governments should, for example, introduce incentives, such as toll and tax reductions, CO2 bonuses or flexibility in driving time, to stimulate the market uptake of truck platooning.

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