A five-year trial of platooning trucks on UK roads has found that the technology is as safe as trucks running separately and fuel savings could be as much as 4.1% but in reality, it’s just 0.5%.
To reach the optimum fuel saving roads would need to be optimised for platooning, however, the actual saving seen in the trial across was only 0.5%, mainly because the three-truck platoon could not be safely maintained through almost half of road junctions.
The HelmUK trial was funded by National Highways and the DfT to test the use of advanced driver assistance systems allowing HGVs to safely travel close together to save fuel by slipstreaming.
The trial involved three HGVs, with drivers being electronically coupled to maintain a gap of 0.5 to 1 second (11.9m to 23.7m at 53mph). This compares with a gap of 1.4 seconds (33.6m at 53mph) for most standard adaptive cruise control systems and the 2 seconds recommended by the Highway Code.